In the last few years we have seen a major increase in so-called cyber security throughout the country. News that foreign hackers have attacked multiple US government agencies has been a drumbeat topic within the corporate-controlled media, complete with fear mongering from government insiders and calls for tighter Internet controls to combat the growing threat.
Now, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is seeking up to 600 new student hackers to combat what they claim is the increasing danger of cyber attacks on critical infrastructure throughout the country.
“There are ‘new and rapidly growing threats’ of a cyberstrike to the US homeland – perils that will require hundreds of young, college-age hackers to counter an alarming number of daily incursions into the nation’s electrical grid and financial networks,” Napolitano told a Monitor Breakfast Tuesday morning.
Rather than the normal propaganda techniques used to lure young Americans into other branches of the government, Homeland Security is taking a different route which includes the use of sophisticated video games to essentially promote job opportunities within their agency to young impressionable high school students.
A recent report published by the New York Times highlighted Homeland Security’s desire to lure in hundreds of young cyber warriors with video game challenges:
So she needs her own hackers — 600, the agency estimates. But potential recruits with the right skills have too often been heading for business, and those who do choose government work often go to the National Security Agency, where they work on offensive digital strategies. At Homeland Security, the emphasis is on keeping hackers out, or playing defense.
“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.”
One answer? Start young, and make it a game, even a contest.
One of these so-called games recently took place in Virginia and featured 40 of the top young cyber talents in the state.
The Cup Cyber Challenge, complete with the stated goal of helping students determine where their talents can best be utilized to protect the security of the United States, is a series of high tech game-like exercises created to help DHS fill their needs.
This month, Mr. Jaska and his classmate Collin Berman took top spots at the Virginia Governor’s Cup Cyber Challenge, a veritable smackdown of hacking for high school students that was the brainchild of Alan Paller, a security expert, and others in the field.
With military exercises like NetWars, the competition, the first in a series, had more the feel of a video game.
Mr. Paller helped create Cyber Aces, the nonprofit group that was host of the competition, to help Homeland Security, and likens the agency’s need for hackers to the shortage of fighter pilots during World War II.
Also noted in the report was the fact that the idea to use competitions was at least in part taken from a strategy employed by Communist China.
The threat of cyber warfare is a very real and present danger. Yet, many have questioned Homeland Security and the government as a whole when they claim that other nations, including terrorist groups, are repeatably striking the country with cyber attacks with very little evidence to support the claims. After all, there were no WMD in Iraq and we still fought that expensive war.
The fact that the government has used these attacks to further push for restrictions on the Internet and on citizens points to the possibility that at least some of the recent cyber attacks and the push for young cyber warriors is actually a well-thought-out operation to further erode what once were constitutionally protected freedoms.
The DHS now joins the Pentagon is recruiting the talented American youth to become cyber soldiers. Every branch of the military is preparing for cyber warfare including using
Cyber security and warfare seem to be a new Cold War of sorts; a future that includes the Pentagon and Homeland Security employing a cadre of hackers, information technologies, Internet surveillance and monitoring technology, and plain old fashioned preemptive deadly force on hackers will be used. Make no mistake, the cyber war will be big business.
All to “defend” the country against an enemy whose origin and authenticity is only known by those who fight them. Welcome to the Cyber Military-Industrial Complex.