The US National Security Agency hopes to hire a mass of “cyber warriors” this year, and another large group next year, to help the country fight the increasingly intense international cyber war, reports Reuters.
To find new recruits, representatives from the NSA, Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security and NASA, will be attending the annual DEF CON hacker conference in Las Vegas, which takes place this weekend.
Started in 1993 by hacker Jeff Moss (aka Dark Tangent), DEF CON is the preeminent meet-up for US hackers. The four-day conference costs $150 — in cash only — to attend. There is no registration, no credit cards allowed, which keeps everything anonymous. About 10,000 computer savvy individuals are expected to attend this year’s conference.
The NSA spy agency hopes to find skilled individuals willing to help the United States conduct itself — both defensively and offensively — in the growing global cyber war, which is gaining combatants and victims more and more each day. (Sources who attended last year’s DEF CON tell us that members of the US nation security complex were also in attendance then, as well, with similar recruiting goals.)
Hacker groups like LulzSec and Anonymous are running amok over the websites of corporations, and stealing classified documents from high-level trans-governmental organizations like NATO and the International Monetary Fund. More nefarious digital underground players — people like government-sponsored hackers from countries in eastern Europe, Russia, Iran and China — have allegedly breached some of the most sensitive systems in the US, like the Pentagon. It is to fight these enemies that the NSA and other US security agencies hope to build a hacker army.
“Today it’s cyber warriors that we’re looking for, not rocket scientists,” said Richard “Dickie” George, technical director for the NSA’s cyber-defense branch, in an interview with 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.”
Problem is, many hackers live outside the law, or at least in its shadows; many are disestablishment players who believe that working for the US government is tantamount to surrender, or at least really lame.
Still, some hackers have crossed over to the other side. In fact, DEF CON founder Moss is himself now a member of the Department of Homeland Security’s Advisory Council. Plus, getting paid to do what you love is a luxury many in this world will never experience, especially when that thing involves high-level security clearance and serious national security issues that are straight out of an action movie.
Besides, says George, “we have a wonderful atmosphere, we have great people and we have the hardest problems on Earth. And we need help, the country needs help.”
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