The UK government's announcement last week that it will set up hacker teams to fight cyber attackers is the first public acknowledgment that crime on the internet is running out of control.
Robert Hannigan, the prime minister's security adviser, says the government can no longer rely on defensive measures alone to protect itself against cyber attacks, especially when it suspects that some attacks are sponsored by other governments.
The move coincides with a similar project in the US, where the US military plans a special unit to develop cyber-weapons to defend military networks and help safeguard civilian systems.
But the idea of launching counter attacks breaks new legal ground. In the past, UK law enforcement agencies have worked with the FBI on sting operations, such as Dark Market, which trapped hundreds of would-be hackers. Hannigan declined to speculate on other tactics that might be used.