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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Mon Mar 25, 2013, 07:01 AM

10. Luring Young Web Warriors Is a U.S. Priority. It’s Also a Game. UNCLE SAM WANTS YOU TO HACK CHINESE

DON'T DO IT, GEEKS!

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/25/technology/united-states-wants-to-attract-hackers-to-public-sector.html?_r=0

In the eighth grade, Arlan Jaska figured out how to write a simple script that could switch his keyboard’s Caps Lock key on and off 6,000 times a minute. When friends weren’t looking, he slipped his program onto their computers. It was all fun and games until the program spread to his middle school. “They called my parents and told my dad I was hacking their computers,” Mr. Jaska, 17 years old, recalled. He was grounded and got detention. And he is just the type the Department of Homeland Security is looking for.

The secretary of that agency, Janet Napolitano, knows she has a problem that will only worsen. Foreign hackers have been attacking her agency’s computer systems. They have also been busy trying to siphon the nation’s wealth and steal valuable trade secrets. And they have begun probing the nation’s infrastructure — the power grid, and water and transportation systems. So she needs her own hackers — 600, the agency estimates. But potential recruits with the right skills have too often been heading for business, and those who do choose government work often go to the National Security Agency, where they work on offensive digital strategies. At Homeland Security, the emphasis is on keeping hackers out, or playing defense.

“We have to show them how cool and exciting this is,” said Ed Skoudis, one of the nation’s top computer security trainers. “And we have to show them that applying these skills to the public sector is important.”


One answer? Start young, and make it a game, even a contest. This month, Mr. Jaska and his classmate Collin Berman took top spots at the Virginia Governor’s Cup Cyber Challenge, a veritable smackdown of hacking for high school students that was the brainchild of Alan Paller, a security expert, and others in the field. With military exercises like NetWars, the competition had more the feel of a video game. Mr. Paller helped create the competition, the first in a series, to help Homeland Security, and likens the agency’s need for hackers to the shortage of fighter pilots during World War II. The job calls for a certain maverick attitude. “I like to break things,” Mr. Berman, 18, said. “I always want to know, ‘How can I change this so it does something else?’ ”

It’s a far different pursuit — and a higher-minded one, enlightened hackers will say — than simply defacing Web sites...It’s no coincidence that the idea of using competitions came, in part, from China, where the People’s Liberation Army runs challenges every spring to identify its next generation of digital warriors...asked about their dream job, both said they wanted to work in the private sector.

“The problem with going into the government is you’re going to make a lot less,” said Mr. Berman.

“Everything’s slower, there’s budget cuts and bureaucracy everywhere and you can’t talk about what you do,” Mr. Jaska added. “It just doesn’t seem like as much fun.”


SOUNDS LIKE A GOOD PLACE TO BUILD A CO-OP TO CONTRACT OUT...

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