Here’s the latest in “thinking outside the box”: Lord Reid of Cardowan, the Former Home Secretary of the UK, has challenged the public sector to start hiring computer hackers.
The idea is to develop a world-class security force against skilled hackers who tend toward the anarchic.
Think about that recruiting challenge.
As if the task itself doesn’t seem oddly backwards enough, Lord Reid spells it out.
“Traditionally, people in the public sector are good team players rather than individual thinkers,” Lord Reid said. “They are those who stay inside the rules rather than think outside the box. With cyber, you’re liable to look for the opposite.”
In a letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Foreign Secretary and the Defence Secretary, Lord Reid also urges the formation of a “Cyber-Resilience Task Force” – a group of the best and brightest cyber-sleuths from “outside the mainstream.”
Just for clarity, Lord Reid also said that “government agencies must acknowledge that people with good information security skills are often free-thinking and not traditional candidates for a civil service or corporate job.”
Lord Reid’s comments come at a time when the University College London’s Institute for Security and Resilience Studies, which he chairs, warns that unless Great Britain picks up the ball it risks losing its position at “the leading edge of technology.”
That’s pretty lofty. However, there’s already some evidence that larger corporations have jumped onto the hire-a-hacker bandwagon.
Despite the relatively menacing website design and the total lack of a physical address for many of these places, most claim at least tacitly to be the good guys.
Yet you’ve likely read about the recent breaches at ADP, the CIA, Sony and the FBI to name a few. You’ve probably also heard of the existence (and subsequent breakup) of not-so-secret organizations like LulzSec whose purpose seems to be to disrupt the online world as much as possible.
So the real trick here, no doubt, will be hiring world-class computer security experts who will help battle the criminal enterprises – and not turn around and use you for the lulz.