The bad guys are going virtual more and more, and American businesses and government networks are getting victimized at a record pace, according to an FBI report.

“The increasing number of such crimes not only impacts the economy but threatens national security,” the FBI said Friday.

The man at the head of the opposition is the FBI’s Shawn Henry, recently appointed head of their Cyber Division. He told reporters Wednesday that the FBI has literally thousands of open cyber crime cases.

“One case in point: We joined our international partners yesterday in announcing a major takedown of a transnational criminal network that was buying and selling stolen financial information through an online forum known as ‘Dark Market‘,” the FBI said Friday.

“The business of the United States is done on the Internet,” said Henry, “And the information that flows electronically 24/7 is increasingly the target of not only identity thieves and scammers, but organized crime groups, terrorists, and overseas governments.”

Yes, even other countries are trying to virtually penetrate the U.S. Henry says about 24 different governments have an “aggressive interest” in obtaining information from or making attacks against American cyber infrastructure.

Henry says that individual hackers and crackers have grouped up into “virtual gangs.”

“In years gone by, if a gang wanted to rob a bank, it needed crooks with various skills — safe cracker, get-away driver, look-out, etc. That’s essentially what we’re seeing in the cyber world today, only these virtual gang members have never met in the physical world,” Henry said.

“There are organized groups that are very successful.”

About The Author

John Guilfoil is the editor-in-chief of Blast: Boston's Online Magazine and the Blast Magazine Network. He can be reached at [email protected]. Tweet @johnguilfoil.

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