Hack Hack Hack Hack It Apart

The Department of Homeland Security Would Like to Talk to Your Hacker Teens

Football team doesn't look so cool now, huh? (They still look cool.)
The high school years!

The high school years!

It’s hard being the Department of Homeland Security. Foreign agents are constantly trying to slip inside the D.H.S.’s computer systems. But America’s  hotshot hackers either go for the private sector ($$$) or somewhere you can go on the offensive, like the N.S.A. (which, let’s face it, sounds super-badass).

So, according to the New York Times, the agency, desperate for recruits, is now making like a college football program and hunting for recruits at high school hacking competitions.

For example: Security experts in Virginia have created the Governor’s Cup Cyber Challenge, in an attempt to funnel talented teens into the public sector. Participants spent the weekend cracking passwords and that sort of thing.  It was all meant to lure them into a stint at the agency:

“We have to show them how cool and exciting this is,” said Ed Skoudis, one of the nation’s top computer security trainers. “And we have to show them that applying these skills to the public sector is important.”

Still, it’s pretty hard to sell a bunch of teenagers on a life of civil service:

“Everything’s slower, there’s budget cuts and bureaucracy everywhere and you can’t talk about what you do,” the Times quoted hacker Arlan Jaska as saying. “It just doesn’t seem like as much fun.”

Let’s hope there aren’t any important secrets on the D.H.S’s servers!

Follow Kelly Faircloth on Twitter or via RSS. kfaircloth@observer.com