The Department of Homeland Security is developing a new weapon in its war against foreign hackers: high school students. To attract young candidates to the field, various groups collaborating with DHS are holding competitions for talented youngsters with a penchant for online mischief. The NYT reports:
With military exercises like NetWars, the competition had more the feel of a video game. [Security Expert Alan] Paller helped create the competition, the first in a series, to help Homeland Security, and likens the agency’s need for hackers to the shortage of fighter pilots during World War II.
“The goal is to create a continuum, similar to the way kids go to junior high, high school, college and get their Ph.D.,” Admiral Godwin said. “We want to create the same flow for kids in the cyber domain.”
DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano is looking for approximately 600 new hackers to help the US stay ahead of the curve in cyberwarfare. But since many potential candidates choose to go into the private sector (or into intelligence agencies like the National Security Agency), attracting skilled recruits has been a challenge.
Cyberwar poses a very real threat to American national security. It’s good to see that DHS not only recognizes this but is taking steps to build up its farm system for potential new recruits. For years, China has run its own competitions to identify talented young digital warriors, and we’ve allegedly seen some of the results of these efforts in the form of attacks on computer networks in the West.
The US has every intention of keeping up.
[Hacker image courtesy of shutterstock.com]