Can Defense Companies Hire Hackers on Their Terms?

Big-name aerospace and defense contractors like Boeing, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman are beginning to think that one answer to their cybersecurity recruiting needs  lies in the hacker community. After all, if you want to combat attacks from people who think out of the box, why not hire people who think out of the box?

Department of Defense LogoIt’s ironic because all of these companies are known for being somewhat conservative—they work for the Defense Department, after all, and security to them is a high-stakes thing. The idea of recruiting from the ranks of the somewhat anarchic hacker community might seem to be a bit counter-intuitive.

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But they’re serious, Mikko Hypponen, the noted security thinker and CRO for the Finnish company F-Secure said during last week’s Black Hat, according to VentureBeat. The sheer creativity that goes into many of today’s cyberattacks is pushing even governments and their contractors to recruit from talent pools they wouldn’t have even considered five years ago.

Unfortunately, there are signs that such established organizations may be at a disadvantage when it comes to landing the people they need. First, they’re very conservative in their approach: In addition to a security clearance—no surprise—drug-testing and clean background checks are required. Those creative hackers they’re seeking can’t always claim to be so clean. In addition, points out VentureBeat, these same people are being pursued by a number of startups who’ll pay good money, don’t require background checks, and don’t care if you’ve smoked dope in the past.

Now, we ask: Who do you think your average hacker’s more likely to approach?

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