1 in 4 Hackers Are FBI Squealers

About 25 percent of all U.S. hackers inform on one another for the federal government, a report said.

The FBI and U.S. Secret Service use threats of long prison terms to compel them to inform on one another, the Guardian (U.K.) reported. The informants have now infiltrated almost every sector of the underground community, including running hacker forums.

"Owing to the harsh penalties involved and the relative inexperience with the law that many hackers have, they are rather susceptible to intimidation," Eric Corley,  who publishes the hacker quarterly 2600, told the Guardian. Corley also said that he believed about 1 in 4 of all hackers may have been recruited by federal law enforcement agencies.

Is it surprising that a bunch of young guys more comfortable around a computer than law school students are probably more naive about their legal rights (and the right to a lawyer if questioned by law enforcement)? Perhaps not, but the idea that hackers are so spooked by prison that they inform on anyone may be a little surprising to a community that thrives on bravado -- although probably not to the rest of the world.

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