HackersDHS seeking student hackers

Published 28 March 2013

DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano  on Tuesday said that due to “new and rapidly growing threats” of a cyberattack, hundreds of college-age hackers are needed to help deal with the massive number of daily incursions into the nation’s electrical grid and other critical infrastructure.

DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano  on Tuesday said that due to “new and rapidly growing threats” of a cyberattack, hundreds of college-age hackers are needed to help deal with the massive number of daily incursions into the nation’s electrical grid and other critical infrastructure.

According to Napolitano, the government will need about 600 “hackers for good.”

The Christian Science Monitor reports that while the plan holds some promise, developing a skilled cyber workforce has been a challenge for government agencies, including DHS and the Pentagon.

The reason is that  most skilled “cyber warriors,” as the U.S. military calls them, are often recruited by private companies immediately after their service commitments end.

“That’s a big concern, to be honest,” Colonel Kiley Weigle, commander of the Air Force’s Cyber Training Unit, told CSM. “We have not, in my opinion, fully cracked that nut yet.”

In an effort to keep cyber warriors in the government, the Air Force started an internship program for high school students who have been given security clearance to work on the Cyber Emergency Response Team unit. Sequestration has forced the Pentagon to cut the program.

“I can’t do the internship program anymore,” Major General Suzanne “Zan” Vautrinot, commander of Air Force Network Operations at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, told CSM. Vautrinot also added that the service is continuing to work to find ways to “give these kids experience so they can see our forensics.”

DHS is trying to keep young hackers in the department by launching “a whole host of internships and fellowships for young people to get,” Napolitano said, noting that the department recently had “over 3,000 kids compete for 60 billets” in one such program.

“We know there’s a market there,” Napolitano added.

DHS is now working on a way better to communicate with the National Security Agency (NSA), which leads most of  the nation’s offensive cyber missions.  

The department also wants to get the private sector involved  “because they control most of our nation’s critical infrastructure,” Napolitano noted, adding that she remains particularly concerned with protecting the nation’s financial and energy sectors.

Napolitano wants to make sure that the government is ready for any kind of attack.

The “U.S. 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,” she said. “Not everything is a Pearl Harbor, obviously.”

view counter
view counter