US Government Looking To Hire Hackers
August 2, 2011 by USA Post
Hacking skills are in great demand in the U.S. government to combat cyber wars that pose a growing threat to national security – and are difficult to obtain.
For the same reason, an alphabet soup of federal agencies – DOD, DHS, NASA, NSA – are falling in Las Vegas this week – the Department of Defense, DHS, NASA, NSA – are falling in Las Vegas this week for Defcon, an annual hackers convention in the rate of 150 and admission is cash only – No registration, no credit cards, names taken. Attendance is expected to reach 10,000.
The NSA is one of the interested suitors. The spy agency played both offense and defense in cyber wars. Conducts electronic eavesdropping of adversaries and protect U.S. networks computer containing super secret material – a prize target for enemies of the United States.
“Today, the cyber warriors that we are seeking, not rocket scientists,” said Richard “Dickie” George, technical director of the Office of the Information Security NSA, the agency’s cyber-defense side.
“That’s the race we are today. And we need best and brightest to be prepared to assume this state of cybernetic warrior,” he told Reuters in an interview.
The NSA is hiring 1,500 people in the fiscal year ending September 30 1500 and coming, most of them experts in cybernetics. With a workforce of just over 30,000, the NSA in Fort Meade, Maryland-based dwarfs other intelligence agencies, including the CIA.
Also involved in cyber espionage and other offensive operations, something that rarely or never discussed publicly.
However, at Defcon, the NSA and other “federal” be competing with companies looking for talent piracy also.
The NSA needs cyber security experts to harden networks, defend the updates, do “penetration testing” to find security holes and monitoring for signs of cyber attacks.
The NSA is expanding within the hackers, but George said there is a shortage of those skills. “We are forced to hire people who need us.”
Maladjusted or FIT-INS?
What seems like an odd couple in shape – Puritan types of government, with its rules and missions trying to recruit hackers, by definition, meant to challenge the authorities?
George said the NSA is actually an environment where hacker’s mentality fits perfectly to work with “a critical mass of people who are like them.”
But what about cultural divisions?
“When I walk down the hall there are people I see every day and do not know what color your hair is going to be,” said George. “It is an advantage if you wear shoes. We have been in a sense, a collection of geeks for a long, long time.”
The agency has been recognized for her brilliant but eccentric at times, mathematicians and linguists.
Jeff Moss, a hacker known as Dark Tangent, knows something about bridging two worlds. He founded and co Defcon conference Black Hat for security professionals and is now a member of the Homeland Security Advisory Council, which advises the government on cyber security.
“They need people with skill sets hacker, hacker mentality is not like going to a university from hackers and bless us with a plaque that says you’re a hacker is a self-appointed label -. As you think or not”, Moss told Reuters.
He made a distinction between hackers with the skills and hackers. Of the latter, he says with a smile: “It would be good to leave them in the door.”
Moss cares about young hackers that can cross the finish line and breaking laws that did not exist when he got his first computer in the 1980s.
“You can learn quite the same skills without breaking any law,” he said.
Although the U.S. systems computer intelligence agencies are believed to be relatively safe, a recent wave of cyber attacks has beaten the Pentagon, major defense contractors and others, like the International Monetary Fund.
Tasks include helping NSA Homeland Security civil insurance networks of U.S. government.
Government a bureaucratic obstacle that may prevent the recruitment of top-flight experts from the security clearance process can take up to six months, at which a candidate may have found another job. For the NSA, prospective employees must pass a lie detector, be drug free for a year and undergo extensive background checks.
CAUTION “Ankle biters’
Unlike the threat of nuclear weapons when it is clear that countries have this capability, cyber attacks can come from anywhere.
“So need to worry about everybody,” said George. “In fact, worry about the major adversaries hiding among children who bite their ankles.”
He explained that it was like finding a needle in a stack of needles – much more difficult than in a haystack. Among the constant pings of adolescents just playing, “the real evil can hide in the noise,” said George. “That’s a big problem for us, trying to identify the real threat of all the things that really is not fatal.”
George did not name the countries that pose a high threat, but other intelligence officials have expressed concern about China’s growth-cyber warfare capabilities, as well as Russia.
The NSA can attract hackers to work within their walls closing dazzling them with the latest technology, appealing to their competitive nature, and give them a sense of working for the good of all, George said.
“We have a wonderful atmosphere, great people there and we have the toughest problems on Earth. And we need help, the country needs help,” he said.
But there is a large difference to win bragging rights in public tenders in comparison to the enclosure NSA.
“We will not make you famous work here, that’s the downside. Can be internally famous, but can not be externally famous,” said George.
Secret nature of the NSA also brings a positive side effect to achieve a balance between work and life.
“If they come here really can not take work home,” said George. “That’s an advantage.”
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