US seeking to recruit student hackers to counter cyber threats

Last Updated: Thu, Mar 28, 2013 10:00 hrs

The US Homeland Security is seeking to hire hundreds of young, college-age hackers to counter an alarming number of new and rapidly growing cyber strikes.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) head Janet Napolitano said that this will be 'hackers for good', and the DHS currently has a need for about 600 of them.

According to the Christian Science Monitor, the need to develop a skilled cyber workforce has been a common and formidable challenge for a number of US government agencies, including DHS and the Pentagon, which is also struggling to build its own cyber workforce.

That is because most skilled 'cyber warriors', as the US military calls them, often get recruited by private industry after their service commitments are up.

The Air Force set up an internship programme for high school students, who were given security clearances to work in the service's Cyber Emergency Response Team unit.

According to the report, but sequestration, which for the Pentagon has come with requirements to cut the number of temporary employees on the payroll, has forced a cancellation of the high school training program for the Air Force.

Napolitano said that at DHS, young hackers, who have not yet entered the job market, potentially 'have a bunch of different skill sets' to offer the country

She said that they don't need PhDs in computer [science]" for many of the jobs they will be called upon to do.

To that end, DHS is launching 'whole host of internships and fellowships for young people to get' Napolitano added, noting that the department recently had 'over 3,000 kids compete for 60 billets' in one such programme, the report said.

According to the report, Napolitano said that one such gap is figuring out how to better coordinate with the National Security Agency, which spearheads many of the nation's offensive cyber missions.

She added that while some cyber attacks are state-sponsored, the "US has to be in a position where not everything is dealt with at the same level, because there are different types of attacks, different methodologies," the report added. (ANI)

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