Feds seek hackers to help in cyber warfare

August 3, 2011

The National Security Agency has descended upon the DEF CON hacking conference to find and hire qualified hackers who understand cyber warfare. [International Business Times]

“Today it’s cyber warriors that we’re looking for, not rocket scientists,” Richard George, technical director of the NSA’s cyber defenses, told Reuters. “That’s the race that we’re in today. And we need the best and brightest to be ready to take on this cyber warrior status.”

Numerous U.S. government agencies, including the CIA and the Pentagon, have been the targets of cyber attacks seeking to pilfer classified information, with many of the hacks originating from nation states such as China rather than from rogue individuals.

To meet the rising threat of cyber warfare, the government has mounted an aggressive campaign to hire qualified hackers.

Jeff Moss, a hacker known as Dark Tangent who founded DEF CON and advises the Department of Homeland Security on cyber security, said that finding the right people for the job was not a matter of looking at a resume.

“They need people with the hacker skill set, hacker mindset,” Moss said. “It’s not like you go to a hacker university and get blessed with a badge that says you’re a hacker. It’s a self-appointed label — you think like one or you don’t.”

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On one hand, the NSA has given us a lot of good work, like SE Linux . They have people who know their stuff. I’m just not sure that anyone who thinks of “hackers” as “cyber warriors” is one of them. Very little of “hacking” is like it is in the movies, and the bits that are happen to be so boring that real hackers routinely automate the process in one way or another. It takes a whole lot more work to find some sort of security hole than it takes to exploit it.

Instead, hackers are engineers and tinkerers. They look at a system (any system, be it mechanical, electronic or software) and ask, “What things can this system do that were not envisioned by its designer”. That kind of thinking requires any would be hacker to fully understand the system that he or she is working with. And, in software, understanding a system gets you quite a ways towards implementing that system. In short, the hackers are in fact the “rocket scientists”, even if if they are self trained.

My problem is that it is 2011 and they’re just NOW looking for a defense against this? China has been hacking everything google and US for YEARS. I hope this is just psyops stuff and we’ve really had some decent hackers for decades.

Actually, I worked for No Such Agency, and often they were not the best and brightest. Just another bureaucracy with a bunch of little chiefs establishing fiefdoms. Not all, as there were some gifted people, but the closest to a hacker I knew was constantly considered a security risk because he was so out there. Man, that guy could program/hack. NSA has come a long way, but still has a ton of catching up to do.

Nah… the NSA has been doing stuff like this for years. Just look at SE Linux which was started by the NSA a good five to ten years ago.

Plus, the feds have been at Defcon forever. It’s turned into something of a game they play there called “Spot the fed” .

… and the geek shall inherit the earth …

Yeah, so they can get help with their racketeering.