Apr 20 2009

Wanted: Computer Hackers – To Help Government

WASHINGTON – Wanted: Computer hackers.

Federal authorities aren’t looking to prosecute them, but to pay them to secure the nation’s networks.

General Dynamics Information Technology put out an ad last month on behalf of the Homeland Security Department seeking someone who could “think like the bad guy.” Applicants, it said, must understand hackers’ tools and tactics and be able to analyze Internet traffic and identify vulnerabilities in the federal systems.

With warnings that the U.S. is ill-prepared for a cyberattack, the White House conducted a 60-day study of how the government can better manage and use technology to protect everything from the electrical grid and stock markets to tax data, airline flight systems, and nuclear launch codes.

President Barack Obama appointed a former Bush administration aide, Melissa Hathaway, to head the effort, and her report was delivered Friday, the White House said.

U.S. computer networks, including those at the Pentagon and other federal agencies, are under persistent attack, ranging from nuisance hacking to more nefarious assaults, possibly from other nations, such as China.

Just last week, spies had hacked into the U.S. electric grid and left behind computer programs that would let them disrupt service. The intrusions were discovered after electric companies gave the government permission to audit their systems

Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Pentagon officials say they spent more than $100 million in the last six months responding to and repairing damage from cyberattacks and other computer network problems.

Short said the $60 million, four-year contract with US-CERT uses the ethical hackers to analyze threats to the government’s computer systems and develop ways to reduce vulnerabilities.

Source: Yahoo News