FBI infiltrates US hacker scene
Quoting Eric Corley, the editor of hacker magazine 2600, the Guardian newspaper reports that an estimated one quarter of all US hackers and crackers are working as informants for the FBI. Corley says that cyber-criminals who get caught can easily be intimidated and coerced into cooperating by being threatened with long prison sentences.
Among the best-known examples is hacker Adrian Lamo, who pointed the US army and FBI in the direction of Bradley Manning. Manning is suspected of having passed videos and documents to WikiLeaks, and is said to have confided in Lamo during an online chat session.
The infiltrations have reportedly caused mistrust and paranoia in the hacker scene. John Young, who operates the mother of all whistleblower sites, Cryptome, told the Guardian: "There are dozens and dozens of hackers who have been shopped by people they thought they trusted."
In some places, infiltration is said to have become so prevalent that "carder" forums specialising in the sale of credit card details are even managed by undercover FBI agents. Anonymous, a group that became known for its attacks against companies including Visa and MasterCard, has reportedly also been infiltrated by the FBI. Although Anonymous is said to be aware of this, the uncertainty about who is, and who isn't, an informant makes people afraid of becoming vulnerable. The FBI is reportedly also tracking the LulzSec group, known for its attacks on Sony, PBS and InfraGard.