A quarter of US hackers are FBI narks

One in every four active hackers in the United States is secretly working for the authorities, according to estimates.

Eric Corley, who publishes the Hacker Quarterly 2600 told the UK's Guardian newspaper that the hacking community has been infiltrated by the FBI to the point that a quarter of hackers regularly squeal on their peers.

According to the report, many of the web sites which provide stolen credit card details and the like are actually FBI stings set up and operated by hackers who have agreed to flip sides in order to avoid prison sentences for past misbehaviour.

"Owing to the harsh penalties involved and the relative inexperience with the law that many hackers have, they are rather susceptible to intimidation," Corley told the Guardian.

Adriam Lamo, the hacker who shopped Wikileaking soldier Bradley Manning, is possibly the most hated man on the planet in hacking circles although he swears he did it to protect people named in the files rather than under the auspices of the FBI.

Turncoat hackers are thought to be responsible for putting dozens of people behind bars, especially those involved in ID theft.