The U.S. FBI (Federal Bureau of
Investigation) believes that 24 nations have created Information War
organizations, equipped with hacker tools and techniques, and able to use these
resources to attack other nations. In practice, most of these nations have developed
this offensive capability as part of their efforts to better defend their own
Internet infrastructure. But the FBI also warns that the growing emergence of
well organized criminal gangs, specializing in Internet crime, also provides
nations with better offensive tools. The FBI allocates an increasing amount of
their Cyber War resources to tracking these gangs. While some countries are
believed to be hiring the Internet gangsters for some jobs (like espionage, or
shutting down web sites of opposition groups, especially ones based overseas),
most nations see the gangs for what they are; dangerous criminals. That has not
stopped some legit companies from using the gangs.
There are cases
of industrial espionage via the Internet, where it appeared that it was
criminal gangs doing mercenary work. It is believed that some of the efforts to
penetrate U.S. government and military networks, to steal data, are carried out
by criminals working freelance. This is often done to protect the gangs from
prosecution in the country where they are based. This accounts for the
reluctance for some countries to go after Internet gangs known to operate on
their territory. But the trend is to go after the gangs, not coddle them.
That's because all nations are vulnerable to these gangs, and there are always
some of these criminals who will go after anyone.