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Security The Military

Pentagon Seeks a New Generation of Hackers 134

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the just-give-them-places-to-play dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Forbes reports on a new military-funded program aimed at leveraging an untapped resource: the population of geeky high school and college students in the US. The Cyber Challenge will create three new national competitions for high school and college students intended to foster a young generation of cybersecurity researchers. 'The contests will test skills applicable to both government and private industry: attacking and defending digital targets, stealing data, and tracing how others have stolen it. [...] The Department of Defense's Cyber Crime Center will expand its Digital Forensics Challenge, a program it has run since 2006, to include high school and college participants, tasking them with problems like tracing digital intrusions and reconstructing incomplete data sources. In the most controversial move, the SANS Institute, an independent organization, plans to organize the Network Attack Competition, which challenges students to find and exploit vulnerabilities in software, compromise enemy systems and steal data. Talented entrants may be recruited for cyber training camps planned for summer 2010, nonprofit camps run by the military and funded in part by private companies, or internships at agencies including the National Security Agency, the Department of Energy or Carnegie Mellon's Computer Emergency Response Team.'"
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Pentagon Seeks a New Generation of Hackers

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  • Foreigners?? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rodrigoandrade (713371) on Friday May 22, 2009 @02:53PM (#28057647)
    Will they accept foreign applicants?? Because restricting this program to US citizens is madness, considering all the hacks done overseas.
    • Re:Foreigners?? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by TinBromide (921574) on Friday May 22, 2009 @02:56PM (#28057695)
      They're probably looking for people who can get a security clearance. It may be harder to do if you're a Chinese foreign national. They're not looking for hacks, but hackers.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by cayenne8 (626475)
        I wonder if they'd consider someone who hasn't really gathered the hacking skills yet, but, would be VERY interested in learning how. Especially, if said person had or was capable of getting a clearance, and had an extensive computer background with skills other than cracking into systems and security in general?
        • by Niris (1443675)
          That's something I was wondering too. Am a computer science major and have spent a couple years working in IT, know a couple programming languages decently, but have no clue where to start for this sort of stuff.
          • sans.org (Score:2, Informative)

            SANS.org offers a whole lot of courses regarding InfoSec. Start with SANS 401 unless you feel you really need the into 301. Sadly, they get pretty pricey if you don't have a company reimbursing you.
          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by zemkai (568023)
            Hoglund / McGraw - Exploiting Software
            Hoglund / Butler - Rootkits
            Aitel / Eren (Hi Sinan!) / et al - The Shellcoder's Handbook
            McClur - Hacking Exposed
            Dowd / et al - The Art of Software Security Assessment
            Szor - The Art of Computer Virus Research and Defense

            ... just a few of the ones I found good that are within arm's reach. That is assuming you learn by reading.

            Oh, and the vast majority of exploits target one form of buffer overflow or another. Stack based, heap based... learn your buffer overfl

        • Re:Foreigners?? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Opportunist (166417) on Friday May 22, 2009 @03:31PM (#28058153)

          Probably not. There are quite a few talented people out there who spent already years to get into "it". Why bother training someone for 2-4 years if you can get someone who already has the skill?

          Part of being a hacker is being able to find the resources. So if you want to learn, just do it.

        • Probably. If you already knew how to hack, that'd imply you had already done some hacking. What were you hacking and was it illegal for you to hack? Can they trust someone who would break the law to learn the things they want people to come in knowing? Classic chicken-egg that way, so yes, I'd imagine you'd be welcome. Of course, if you've not got the temperament for hacking, how good of a hacker will you make? Will you just end up being another gov hack? (Noting personal, these are all meta-speculat

        • This question/assumption is exactly why this initiative is doomed to fail. Institutions don't get 'hacking' (cracking).

          Hacking isn't about computers. Hacking is about a thought process. If you don't have it, you probably never will. Learning to 'think like a hacker' is about saying 'hmmm' when something unexpected happens and letting your mind explore a thousand options instead of shrugging and moving on. The true, scary-smart hacker types do exist, but the average profile is someone without a CS degree (li

        • by Fred_A (10934)

          I wonder if they'd consider someone who hasn't really gathered the hacking skills yet, but, would be VERY interested in learning how.

          Sure. Especially if you can run for hours and still scream silly songs whenever any other platoon is within earshot, don't need much sleep, crawl in the mud and have spotless shoes 3 minutes afterwards, all valuable skills in any army.
          The electrical tape to fix your glasses will be provided. Bring your own cheetos.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Jeian (409916)

      Literally any governmental or military job that involves dealing with classified information, requires you to be a US citizen. I imagine this would be no different.

      • Literally any governmental or military job that involves dealing with classified information, requires you to be a US citizen. I imagine this would be no different.

        Or even merely ITAR-restricted data.

    • To work on these systems you'd need to hold a security clearance. It is not prima facie absurd to say that some restrictions could be lifted for Secret-classified networks, but you'd never get them to do Top Secret and Top Secret/SCI because of how incredibly sensitive the data is on those networks.

    • Gays?? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mcmonkey (96054)

      Will they accept homosexuals?

      Or is "deviant sexual behavior" only acceptable when done as part of an "enhanced interrogation"?

    • by Simulant (528590)

      Hell, most of the time they won't even except US citizens unless they already have a clearance. It's a very closed system.

      I spend a few years doing IT/Security for the DOD.

      The worst job ever, for what it's worth. So bad that I now happily work for 50% less pay, elsewhere.

      In other news, it was announced that the US Army will be upgrading from XP to Vista because "It's easier to upgrade to Windows 7 from Vista than it is from XP." (not an exact quote) This is the type of mentality you have to deal with in

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Madness? THIS...IS...AMERICA!!
      Sorry, had to do it /* crawls back into geek cave */

  • ...which challenges students to find and exploit vulnerabilities in software, compromise enemy systems and steal data.

    And the winner does not pass "Go", does not collect $200, and goes straight to jail.

    • Thank you. Finally someone with some caution.

      "Hey, we'll interrogate Terrorists."
      "But we aren't getting any hits sir."
      "Okay. Let's hold a contest to find some."

  • Finally.... (Score:4, Funny)

    by BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) on Friday May 22, 2009 @03:01PM (#28057777) Homepage Journal

    Angelina Jolie has a legitimate excuse to stop posturing as an actress and can pursue her true destiny... [imdb.com]

    • Sorry, dude, I hate to be the one break the news to you, but Angelina Jolie? She doesn't know anything about hacking. Neither did her character in that movie.

      OTOH, she did do her own stunts for the Tomb Raider movies. Athletic and sexy....yum.

      • Re:Finally.... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by bencoder (1197139) on Friday May 22, 2009 @04:16PM (#28058675)
        but her laptop's got a 28.8bps modem AND it runs on RISC architecture! She must be a hacker!
      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        "Me, alright? I did it. She knows shit about computers. She... she's just my girlfriend."

        "Are you crazy? What are you doing?"

        "I'm trying to help you."

        "Dade."

        "What?"

        "Thanks for your help."

      • Well. You will stop saying "yum", when she shows you her S/M studio in her basement. :P
        (At least that's what I heard about her sexual preferences.)

  • by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Friday May 22, 2009 @03:05PM (#28057829)

    which challenges students to find and exploit vulnerabilities in software, compromise enemy systems and steal data.

    When they work for you, they're "freedom fighters".
    When they work for the other guys, they're "terrorists".

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Yvan256 (722131)

      And good luck denying cyber-attacks against other countries with a publicly announced program like that.

      • by khchung (462899)

        Why bother to deny them? Having everybody know they have the capability and the will to perform cyber-attacks is good for the military, it gives more credibility to their threats, which reduce their need to actually perform more attacks, and that reduces their cost and risk.

        On the PR side though, well, I think the military will leave that to the politicians... The US didn't much care about their image when national interest is at stake anyway.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by megamerican (1073936)

      which challenges students to find and exploit vulnerabilities in software, compromise enemy systems and steal data.

      When they work for you, they're "freedom fighters".

      When they work for the other guys, they're "terrorists".

      You could also say that When they SAY they work for the other guys, they're "terrorists."

      This news isn't very surprising considering that the The National Research Council [blacklistednews.com] is pushing for the offensive use of âoecyberattackâ against enemies foreign and domestic.

      It isn't very hard to imagine that they may commit attacks on our own infrastructure in order to get more power and money. Our government has a proven track record of using false flag attacks (see Operation Ajax or the Northwoods documents)

    • "If the people raise a great howl against my barbarity and cruelty, I will answer that war is war, and not popularity seeking"--William Tecumseh Sherman

  • Cybersecurity (Score:4, Insightful)

    by oneirophrenos (1500619) on Friday May 22, 2009 @03:05PM (#28057835)

    ... a young generation of cybersecurity researchers ... attacking and defending digital targets, stealing data ...

    Isn't it funny that whenever there is talk about security it generally means the opposite?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      Isn't it funny that whenever there is talk about security it generally means the opposite?

      Well, it makes sense. In order to defend a secure system/network, you must first know multiple ways to break into that secure system/network. Posers doing "IT security" jobs that don't know what they're doing are for sure going to drop the ball and get pwned.

    • ... a young generation of cybersecurity researchers ... attacking and defending digital targets, stealing data ...

      Isn't it funny that whenever there is talk about security it generally means the opposite?

      Military thinking 101: The best defense is a good offense.

      • by AHuxley (892839)
        Military thinking 101: Get them young and into any uniform.
        Say 13-16 yo. Makes the death squad aspects so much more fun when they are 18-21.
  • they seem to have thousands of enthusiastic youngsters who are already hard at work in this very field

  • by netruner (588721) on Friday May 22, 2009 @03:20PM (#28058007)
    I have been looking for formal academic training in computing security for quite some time. The best I've found is "boot camps" for CISSP and seminar courses taught by a local college on how to use tools like Metasploit, Wireshark and C&A.

    I went all the way through a MS CS looking for any opportunity to study computing security and drew nothing but shrugs from my professors when I inquired about seriously studying the subject.

    If they really want to produce cybersecurity experts, forget the competitions - you have to make training available. Forget all of the hand waving talk about academics not "having the right mindset". I have found that the kind of people who say such things just don't want to share their knowledge.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by NES HQ (1558029)
      Not sure how long ago you tried to do this, but there are a number of colleges (Bachelors and post-grad) that offer solid Infosec programs now (disclaimer, there are just as many that offer crappy Infosec programs). In-depth training and certification is available for most major/widely-deployed Infosec products, such as Snort (http://www.sourcefire.com/services/education). Also, there are professional training organizations (e.g. SANS) that offer excellent [mostly] vendor-neutral Infosec training. Infose
    • This is hilarious! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tacokill (531275)
      Your post is hilarious! I mean no offense by this reply so please don't get mad....

      The idea that there is "hacking training" or even college is hilarious! Hacking, by definition, means you do things that were not designed to be done. IOW, you hacked them to make them work together. It could be computers...or it could be stereo speakers. They only differ in form.

      Things like this can not be taught by books or professors. They are learned by experience and tinkering. There are no shortcuts to b
      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        It could be computers...or it could be stereo speakers.

        You're a moron. No offense. We're not talking about the bullshit hacking that lifehackers do. The kind of hacking we're talking about is specifically breaking computer security. This involves exploits, buffer overflows, timing attacks, DNS poisoning, spoofing, shell code, etc, etc... All those things can most certainly be taught though mastering these topics, or any topic, requires practice and experience. There's nothing abstract about that.

      • by Propaganda13 (312548) on Friday May 22, 2009 @03:47PM (#28058341)

        Things like this can be taught by books or professors.

        You start off with ground work on information security, networking, and penetration testing. You learn how things are being protected, how known flaws were exploited in the past, and what traces were left behind.

        It's the same steps as being a programmer. The great ones love it, understand it, and spend their free time doing it. The average ones just tread where the great ones have gone before.

        • Agree to disagree (Score:5, Insightful)

          by tacokill (531275) on Friday May 22, 2009 @04:21PM (#28058745)
          The very idea that you could create any kind of meaningful "hacking curriculum" is laughable. Books and Professors? Are you really serious with your reply? Are they really the best source of hacking info? No...no they are not. They never have been. Sure, they can teach you the basics and get you in the game but in reality, that's where their capability ends. Last I checked, professors had nothing to do with 2600, Phrack, LoD, Code Red, Sasser, or any other hacking effort in the last 25+ years. Have you ever seen some of the pure genius that has come from true hackers? Some of it makes you step back in awe of how they "figured that out". Go back and read some of the ezines from the late 80's and 90's. They are quite dated by now but they covered topics that NO BOOK or class could ever touch.

          I mean, think about it....many hackers know more about the equipment than the people who actually designed and built it. And you think books are going to teach them to hack it? C'mon....

          Methinks you are confusing "security professional" with "hacker". Sometimes they overlap, but not always. I know plenty of INFOSEC guys who don't know a damn thing about hacking. If you were to put them into a room with a real hacker, you would quickly see the hacker run circles around the pro. Now, why would that be?

          Riddle me this: IF what you say is true, then why aren't we swimming in hackers all around us? Why is the govt having such a hard time finding qualified applicants? Why aren't there more uber hackers "out there"? After all, if I want to be 1337, all I have to do is go to the right classes and have an active interest. So what is stopping millions of wannabe kids from doing just that?
          • Re:Agree to disagree (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Vancorps (746090) on Friday May 22, 2009 @05:59PM (#28059843)

            Sounds like someone is in love with mythical hackers that don't truly exist or are an extreme rarity.

            The idea that the coding and all the underlying skills necessary to "hack" into any system is not teachable is what is laughable. You clearly weren't involved in 2600 if you think there weren't any professors involved. It's mostly academia where all of these people came from. They learned the computing skills in school and took the material above and beyond to try different tasks with the same tools.

            My 2600 chapter was full of people from varying backgrounds and professions with a common interest in learning how to do things that others didn't know how to do.

            If you know an infosec guy that doesn't know about hacking techniques then I pray for anyone that hires them as they will not be affective at all in their job. How are you supposed to guard against something you know nothing about? The term hacker existed before security researcher because hacker became stigmatized for the few like Kevin Mitnick who caused a lot of havoc and exposed a lot of utter stupidity.

            The government is having a hard time finding hackers because most hackers are performing tasks which the government has deemed illegal. This does not a good relationship make. Combine this with the secret nature of a lot of hackers work and they simply don't want to be around authority unless they have just started out. Competitions like this are a way to attempt to change that image but unfortunately with the state of laws nothing will change especially with hackers that try to do the right thing by informing private parties of security vulnerabilities ending up in jail.

            Millions of wannabe kids have other interests than computers. The people with the necessary OCD to take it to a level of interest is a very small number of people who tend to be withdrawn from the mainstream making them hard to find and more importantly volunteer to have your background checked.

            I was part of Infragard in college until 9/11 happened it was mostly free to all who wanted to learn about infosec from a private infrastructure security standpoint and it was very eye opening. That is until the FBI did a background check after 9/11 and apparently I failed as they asked me not to come back until I had a job in the field even though I had contributed heavily with designing secure networks.

            There are tons of books that "hackers" read to learn what they know and the rest is left up to creativity. Make no mistake, the vast majority of skills can and often are taught. My college degree back in 2004 had a network security major along with network engineer and both required a certain amount of programming so you understand what you're trying to manage. Many of those classes were very enlightening even though the real world was dramatically different it still gave me the tools to understand what was happening in real time.

      • by netruner (588721)
        I tried to choose my words carefully - "Hacking" in the current popularly accepted definition (as opposed to its original definition, which you referenced in your post) is not computing security, but one way to attempt to breach security. I have found several items to fall under the umbrella of computing security such as Configuration Management, confidentiality policy, forensics, disaster recovery, cost/benefit analysis of security measures, virus handling - and these are just the ones off the top of my h
        • Got it. Thanks for the clarification. You are right that we have to define what we mean when we say "hacker". I used the old school definition so thanks for pointing out the difference. It is helpful to the discussion.
        • by Vancorps (746090)

          While you do have a point, if a hacker understands those other concepts then he will be a lot more affective as he will understand where the vulnerability points lay. I'm particularly referring to backup and restore strategies and forensics but the rest are also good to know as they provide you with additional attack vectors to consider.

          Holistic approaches are the most affective if you don't want to get caught. I would argue that security researcher and white hat hacker are considered the same.

          I wish the

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by cayenne8 (626475)
        "The idea that there is "hacking training" or even college is hilarious! Hacking, by definition, means you do things that were not designed to be done. IOW, you hacked them to make them work together. It could be computers...or it could be stereo speakers. They only differ in form. "

        To a large extent I agree with you, but, some courses to give you some of the real basics, history of exploits, tools currently used on both sides, and all, would go a long way in giving you a head start over someone that had

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by zifr (1467429)
      Look for schools that teach Information Assurance or Digital Forensics. It's normally a CS track.
    • by Opportunist (166417) on Friday May 22, 2009 @03:36PM (#28058203)

      It's pointless to "study" computer security. By the time you're through, you get told "forget everything, it's outdated".

      You're looking at a field here that reinvents itself every other month. What you knew 2 years ago is outdated and very near worthless today. 2 years ago, the big craze in security were bogus browser plugins and runtime packers. Nobody does it anymore, all security tools can easily identify and depack them. The thing now is the transition to true P2P updatable malware with digital signatures. Once this is achived, conficker will look like a toy.

      Personally, I give it 3-6 months.

      So it's not a matter of mindset. It's a matter of being outdated by the time you learned it.

      • Don't completely discount formal education. Technologies come and go, but principles last forever. There is nothing new under the sun. All of this has happened before, and all of this will happen again.

        • The principles are already taught. It's called computer science.

          What would you want to teach on top of that? "Principle" security holes like memory leaks? Anyone who knows at least a bit of assembler (again, should be part of a good formal CS education) can be shown how to exploit mem leaks in a few hours. That warrants a lecture maybe, but no course and certainly not a separate field of study.

          So what should be taught in a computer security course?

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            So what should be taught in a computer security course?

            You're assuming that we're only talking about breaking computer security. How about:
            -Security models, such as the reference monitor concept and access control methods.
            -Formal methods for verification.
            -The history of computer security development, so you don't reinvent the wheel (happens all the time).
            -Risk assessment and mitigation.
            -Legal and policy frameworks.
            -Methodologies for reverse engineering and disassembly.
            -Proper implementation of cryptology (hint: anyone who writes their own crypto module is eith

            • You have some valid points here. Yes, I could see that as a course, maybe a voluntary course in a CS masters curriculum.

      • It's pointless to "study" computer security. By the time you're through, you get told "forget everything, it's outdated".

        There's nothing specific to computer security here. In nearly every field, by the time you graduate what you've learned is outdated. The methods have changed, the accepted views and interpretations have changed, the tools have changed. Education isn't about learning the specifics of particular topics, it's about learning how to intelligently and rationally deal with a specific topic.

        A computer security course of study could contain examples, such as browser exploits and conficker, but the focus should be o

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Opportunist (166417)

          So, essentially, you say people should learn computer theory, programming (and the pitfalls like memory leaks and bogus data input), assembler language and processor architecture, logic and various tools associated with it?

          Gee, I wonder why there's no branch of study for that...

          • by chihowa (366380)
            I'm not a computer programmer, so I don't know what specifically would make a "computer security" path of study different from a "computer science" (or whatever) degree. The OP complained about "...hav[ing] been looking for formal academic training in computing security for quite some time," so I would assume he decided a regularly offered course of study didn't meet his requirements.

            Seriously, is there a point to your post or are you just being argumentative? From your attitude toward education, it appear
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Opportunist (166417)

              Basically I have a degree in CS. Science, that is, not security. Security came on top of it. Or next to it, depending on how you want to look at it.

              I don't know if it would make sense to "teach" IT-Sec in a normal, classroom-style way. A lot of it is tinker and toy, try and error. There's very little in the sense of true and tried, established ways. Mostly becaues as soon as it's true and tried, it's no longer a security concern. It's known, it's established, it's fixed, it's no longer a security issue. Of

      • Thanks for posting in a much more graceful manner than I have on this thread. I was not as clear in my responses to this guy so thanks for laying it out much more clearly.
      • You're looking at a field here that reinvents itself every other month. What you knew 2 years ago is outdated and very near worthless today.

        Bullshit. Everything I learned about computer security ten years ago is just as applicable today as it ever was. The specific tools and methods and exploits change every month, but the fundamentals are the same as they ever were.

        Don't trust user input.
        Obscurity is not security.
        Complicated designs have more bugs.
        Understand the difference between encryption, authentication, and authorization.
        People will circumvent your security for convenience, so make sure your security procedures won't impose on them.
        Audi

        • If this isn't taught in a CS course, I question the value of the degree...

          Don't trust user input.
          Don't trust ANY input. From users, from file, and especially from networks. All exploits somehow depend on external data that is not checked for sanity.

          Obscurity is not security.
          Use standard, well reviewed crypto algorithms.
          They go hand in hand. Unfortunately, often you're not the one who gets to decide this. Marketing and management, neither of which know jack about security, usually, make those decisions. Usua

    • It looks like you are looking for a shortcut. In any case, if you are seriously going to do hacking you have to be extremely inquisitive and have lots of patience. A CS degree might give you general knowledge that will help you plan a strategy but specific knowledge of how a system works only comes from playing with it. Also going to college gives you a chance to play with hardware and software that you might not have otherwise been able to and that's the real value.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by querist (97166)

      I can understand your frustration, but I hope I can offer some encouragement, too.

      Yes, there is a significant difference between the academic and practical sides of things, and they each have their place. I may be biased here, but I feel that the best position is to have one foot firmly in each realm. I work full-time in infosec and I am a part-time university professor (with a Ph.D. in infosec), so I bridge that gap, bringing my practical real-world experience to my students and bringing the benefits of th

    • I have been looking for formal academic training in computing security for quite some time.

      Try Iowa State University's program [iastate.edu]. It is one of the charter schools under a 1994 act signed by former President Clinton to do research and training in this area. The school has an excellent program (I actually attended it) with some good research going on, as well as very good formal courses. It's not just CISSP stuff or competitions, although the school does very well in competitions as well and hosts some of its o

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by oldhack (1037484)
      There isn't much theoretical underpinning on system security, so it doesn't fit into academia, although that never stopped b-schools mushrooming.
  • by bzzfzz (1542813) on Friday May 22, 2009 @03:22PM (#28058033)

    When you consider that only a lily-white goody twoshoes can pass the lifestyle polygraph it's no wonder they can't find enough people. They figure if you've ever tried to access any system without the Proper Authority, ever, you're a bad risk. So if you've ever held down two buttons at once on a vending machine to see what happens, you need not apply.

    That makes about as much sense as refusing to recruit people into the army because they were in a fight, once.

    There is no shortage of people with black hat skills. The problem is that the government does not want all but a handful of those few who are willing to work a job where a routine fuckup can be prosecuted as a felony.

    • So if you've ever held down two buttons at once on a vending machine to see what happens, you need not apply.

      Um, so what happens? I am feeling a bit peckish...

      • by bzzfzz (1542813)

        So if you've ever held down two buttons at once on a vending machine to see what happens, you need not apply.

        Um, so what happens? I am feeling a bit peckish...

        The same thing that happens if you try to ssh to whitehouse.gov. Which is to say, nothing, if the system under test was properly designed and constructed.

    • by Opportunist (166417) on Friday May 22, 2009 @03:38PM (#28058235)

      They don't want black hats. They're unreliable. Above skill comes the problem that they will deal with sensitive data which must not fall into the wrong hands. Their worst fear is to make the fox guard the chicken pen.

      I hear you, though. It's an old joke in the biz, there's good people, there's clean people and there's available people. You may pick two of the list.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      The purpose of the polygraph isn't to find out if you are lily-white. It is largely to determine if you can be blackmailed. If you are truthful about your "indiscretions", you can't be blackmailed. On the other hand, someone who is willing to lie on a polygraph clearly has some shame issues that could be exploited by a hostile agent. Obviously, admitting to a felony or intent to subvert the government isn't going to get you anywhere.

      • by bzzfzz (1542813)
        While that is the traditional use of the polygraph, IT people recruited for sensitive jobs are also questioned about any dirty tricks they may have pulled for fun or profit. Downloading pr0n on the corporate backbone while waiting for an upgrade to complete is enough to do it. Divorced IT people are effectively unclearable because almost all of them have guessed or otherwise obtained their ex's passwords for email, facebook, etc., and used these for nefarious purposes, minor or otherwise.
  • Game time (Score:3, Funny)

    by speciesonly (1194865) <rangerjen@gmail.com> on Friday May 22, 2009 @03:22PM (#28058035) Journal

    Finally, all those years of watching "War Games" might pay off.

  • Culture vs Goals (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tacokill (531275) on Friday May 22, 2009 @03:24PM (#28058067)
    I would think the very culture of the DoD would be adversarial towards the very people they are trying to recruit.

    What's the hook? What I mean is: why would some high schooler join this program vs the alternatives? -which by the way....are way more fun. Would you really want to hack for some PHB who has TPS Cover Sheets to fill out? I can't imagine a less rewarding situation

    This seems like wishful thinking to me. How many "hacker recruiting" programs have we seen/heard about now? I can count 3 or 4 off the top of my head. Methinks they are not having much success finding good hackers.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I think you are playing to some stereotypes of the DoD. Although there are some inefficiently run programs in the DoO (obviously), there are also very efficient and fun programs as well. You'll be surprised how smart and young many managers are in divisions such as these and also where they came from.

      There are good reasons to get into the field in DoD like steady pay, good benefits, the feeling of serving your country (for what that's worth anymore) and lastly the resources. I doubt many security firms

      • by Bucky Bit (764092)

        Without appearing to cynical, but I wish them great luck. The education system is so flawed right now, the kids don't know algebra, basic skills etc,... - they should look out for russian school children or chinese, indian, etc...or wait, until Obama fixes the school system, besides the economy, the health-sy...ups, I digress.

        Smart kids need an environment to play in. They need to feel comfortable and cozy. If the DoD expands their kindergartens, it'll be ok, I guess.

        • by Vancorps (746090)

          This confuses greatly as when I was in 8th grade Algebra was an optional class students could take if they wanted a challenge. Now every student in 7th grade is taking Algebra at my old school.

          I guess public schools in Vermont are significantly better that public schools elsewhere? I know people in Oregon that had similar experiences, although many others reflect the attitude that you have towards "the education system" which relies on parental involvement supplementing education and schools that aren't af

      • "the DoO"
        Freudian slip about the Department of Offense?


    • why would some high schooler join this program vs the alternatives?

      Good question. I would expect a DoD (read: NSA) backed program would give you access to compute resources beyond the imaginings of a kid-in-a-basement, like encryption cracking compute nodes with 1000 cores, direct connection to internet peers, etc. Not to mention a paycheck. Also, a badge: while you might like to work off the grid, there's something to be said for having a get-out-of-jail free card too.

      Also, the DoD could point y
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by jeff4747 (256583)

      You're forgetting a few details:

      First, there's military contractors to work for, which have a more 'pleasant' attitude. On top of that, the DoD folks in this area aren't exactly your normal "grunt".

      Second, the level of challenges are going to be extremely high. You're not trying to break in to some web server set up by a marginally-competent IT guy. You're working against (and with) the best on the planet.

      Third, you put a few years in at the DoD, and you come out with a security clearance and very attrac

    • The Chinese did it and if anyone is centrally controlled and authoritarian then it is the Chinese. If they can organize groups of computer hackers in their armed forces and intelligence agencies then why can't we do the same?
  • by NES HQ (1558029)
    In the most controversial move, the SANS Institute, an independent organization, plans to organize the Network Attack Competition, which challenges students to find and exploit vulnerabilities in software, compromise enemy systems and steal data.

    Can someone explain to me why this is controversial? SANS is one of the leading security organizations in the world...

    • It's controversial because they're not giving out black badges if you win.
    • by querist (97166)

      I agree. Why is this controversial? Other than the fact that they're opening the doors to "all comers", it sounds very much like the "capture the flag" competition on the last day of the "Hacker Tools and Incident Response" course that I took in San Jose a year or two ago.

      SANS organizes similar events at their larger conferences. The difference is that it's open.

      I also agree with those who have stated that the DoD culture is not exactly in sync with the culture of those who can do this sort of thing. I was

  • by Vspirit (200600) on Friday May 22, 2009 @03:27PM (#28058093) Homepage

    Quite an ingenious move.

    While the initiative may seem to foster and legalize what previously have been considered acts of malevolence, it also helps the government to identify and build a register of possible future trouble makers with skills.

    This will get them both a great recruitment program, but it will also give them a a great monitoring tool.

    I'm not pro nor con, just saying. Nice Database of profiles. Do you bite?

  • Yeah - they had this back when I was in high school.

    Only, instead of a prize; I got an F in my programming class, threats of expulsion, and had to promise never to use one of the "school's" computers again.

  • Probably paranoid of me but this looks like a way for the gov't to track people in this country who have this skillset. Face it, these types of skills could potentially be turned to very negative pursuits. This type of contest/internship/whatever, is a great way to get a lot of unknowns within the skillset on the radar.
  • Endless Cycle (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ukab the Great (87152) on Friday May 22, 2009 @04:37PM (#28058983)

    And so continues the cycle of Slashdot stories of "$ARMED_FORCE is starting a new elite CyberSecurityDefenderProtectUsFromBadGuysSuperForce" and:

    1. Former IT folks in the $ARMED_FORCE ranting on Slashdot about how $ARMED_FORCE did nearly everything in their power to make competent IT people leave.
    2. $ARMED_FORCE continuing to disqualify those who are over 30 or who have a pasty-faced a complexion unbecoming to G.I. Joe.
    3. $ARMED_FORCE not wanting to stop using Windows for anything secure.
    4. More Chinese hackers putting stupid stuff on $ARMED_FORCE's IIS servers.

  • by CarpetShark (865376) on Friday May 22, 2009 @05:03PM (#28059281)

    "Why shouldn't I work for the N.S.A.? That's a tough one, but I'll take a shot. Say I'm working at N.S.A. Somebody puts a code on my desk, something nobody else can break. Maybe I take a shot at it and maybe I break it. And I'm real happy with myself, 'cause I did my job well. But maybe that code was the location of some rebel army in North Africa or the Middle East. Once they have that location, they bomb the village where the rebels were hiding and fifteen hundred people I never met, never had no problem with, get killed. Now the politicians are sayin', "Oh, send in the Marines to secure the area" 'cause they don't give a shit. It won't be their kid over there, gettin' shot. Just like it wasn't them when their number got called, 'cause they were pullin' a tour in the National Guard. It'll be some kid from Southie takin' shrapnel in the ass. And he comes back to find that the plant he used to work at got exported to the country he just got back from. And the guy who put the shrapnel in his ass got his old job, 'cause he'll work for fifteen cents a day and no bathroom breaks. Meanwhile, he realizes the only reason he was over there in the first place was so we could install a government that would sell us oil at a good price. And, of course, the oil companies used the skirmish over there to scare up domestic oil prices. A cute little ancillary benefit for them, but it ain't helping my buddy at two-fifty a gallon. And they're takin' their sweet time bringin' the oil back, of course, and maybe even took the liberty of hiring an alcoholic skipper who likes to drink martinis and fuckin' play slalom with the icebergs, and it ain't too long 'til he hits one, spills the oil and kills all the sea life in the North Atlantic. So now my buddy's out of work and he can't afford to drive, so he's got to walk to the fuckin' job interviews, which sucks 'cause the shrapnel in his ass is givin' him chronic hemorrhoids. And meanwhile he's starvin', 'cause every time he tries to get a bite to eat, the only blue plate special they're servin' is North Atlantic scrod with Quaker State. So what did I think? I'm holdin' out for somethin' better. I figure fuck it, while I'm at it why not just shoot my buddy, take his job, give it to his sworn enemy, hike up gas prices, bomb a village, club a baby seal, hit the hash pipe and join the National Guard? I could be elected president. "

  • Provide me with an adequate quantity of hot, willing females of breeding age and I'll get right to work producing it.
  • The problem with training hackers is that you can't train someone to be obsessed about computer security. They would be better off sifting through medical records looking for kids who were diagnosed with ADD (Probably misdiagnosed) and recruiting them to just play with computers. The best hackers I have known don't know as much about systems or networking as the best programmers I know. The skill that the hackers have is persistence, they will keep trying and trying until they have gotten something worth

  • Doubt it will work (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Casandro (751346) on Saturday May 23, 2009 @12:32AM (#28063363)

    If you read through the hacker ethic, you will find that it's completely incompatible to the values enforced by any military institution.

  • Let's join, and destroy them from the inside!

    Cheers,

    osama/bin/rootkid

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