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News sites on the Web today seem to have just discovered a story from last Thursday’s Guardian newspaper in the UK that said government agencies in the U.S. and U.K. are preparing to go after the servers of the criminal gangs and government-sponsored hackers in Russia, China and North Korea. The measures could include the subtle installation of spyware to try to identify the miscreants all the way up to denial-of-service attacks.

The Guardian quotes unnamed sources saying that the UK’s Serious Organised Crime Agency and the Metropolitan police e-crime unit have already begun operations.

It also said a recent federal government review of cyber security in the U.S. stated that the president has the legal authorization to carry out such attacks to defend the national security under the Communications Act of 1934.

This isn’t the first time this has been discussed. While the increase in hacking and malware recently must be dealt with, a lot of observers draw the conclusion that there could be serious collateral damage if government agencies and the dark side begin exchanging attacks. Since the main “business model” for Internet crime is to organize botnets of other people’s computers to command and control, launch the denial-of-service attacks, store the porn and do the drive-by downloads, this could get really ugly.

Better update the emergency phone numbers for your up-stream provider and dust off the ol’ disaster recovery plan.

Story here.

Tom Kelchner