Ask anyone in the Internet business and they will tell you that hacking can be big business. With a massive amount of companies doing quite a bit of business online, there is more incentive than ever for people to find a way to get at that money.
Of course, there is also the issue of some people simply enjoying wreaking havoc with companies and sites they do not like or just because they want to show that they can. Because of this, online companies all over the world are taking a “if you can't beat them, join them” approach to hackers and are putting them on their payroll.
Google is the latest private company that offered up several different bounties to “researchers” in order to find flaws with their Google (News - Alert) Chrome browser. While they are the most recent, Facebook has regularly undertaken paying out bounties to hackers in order to find problems with their security. Now Great Britain is weeding out the best of the best of the hackers in order to lure them into working for the government's woefully understaffed Cybersecurity Agency.
In order to find men and women who would be well suited for a job working in the cybersecurity wing of the government, the UK is holding a contest in which participants hunt down malware, put up strong firewalls and fight off fake hacker attacks. Former Security Minister Pauline Neville-Jones spoke at the close of what is being called the Cyber Security Challenge. "The flow of people we have at the moment is wholly inadequate," she said, warning of a skills gap "which threatens the economic future of this country."
Competitors spent weeks carrying out various tasks that are all geared towards acting as though they were indeed members of the cybersecurity arm of the UK government. Among the tests people had to pass were shoring up obviously weak defense systems, cracking various weak codes and going through corrupted hard drives to find various pieces of information. The tests were set up by some of the country's leading online security firms. The contest was closed to cybersecurity professionals so those participating were young people who had been learning these skills on their own.
Edited by Carrie Schmelkin