Feeds

Cyber security minister ridiculed over s'kiddie hire plan

'Naughty boys' nonsense

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

Security experts have strongly criticised suggestions by a government minister that former hackers might play a key role in Britain's newly announced cybersecurity strategy.

Lord West, the Home Office security minster, made the controversial suggestion that the government had recruited former hackers to work in its new Cyber Security Operations Centre, a key components of the UK government’s cybersecurity strategy announced last week.

West told the BBC that the government had avoided employing "ultra, ultra criminals" but needed the mad skillz expertise of former miscreants.

"You need youngsters who are deep into this stuff… If they have been slightly naughty boys, very often they really enjoy stopping other naughty boys," he said.

Rik Ferguson, a security consultant at Trend Micro, and someone who has worked wth GCHQ, described the idea of hiring reformed hackers to face off state-sponsored cyberspies and cybercriminals from eastern European as misguided at best in an entertaining blog post here.

The government has actually hired a team of people known to have committed criminal acts using computers and is rewarding them for that activity with civil service jobs. It is also giving these same criminals access to signals intelligence at extremely high levels of clearance and relying on them for national defence.

This sounds like the kind of people that have been disparagingly referred to as script-kiddies for many years now and I really can’t see their value to national security or law enforcement. Would it be fair to paraphrase this as "We have hired some hackers, but don’t worry, we didn’t hire the successful ones"?

Ferguson goes on to ask how the active recruitment of known hackers and criminals squares with the government's stated aim of pursuing an ethical cyber-security policy.

Chris Boyd, a security researcher at FaceTime, agrees that Lord West is talking tosh in a post on Twitter. Boyd writes: "Lord West sez: hire lots of talentless script kiddies to shore up UK cyberdefences. How can people be so dense?"

Lord West popped up in numerous news outlets last week suggesting the he didn't really trust this new fangled interweb and is worried about carrying about a smart phone near his Hackney home in case it might get nicked (hello encryption, backup) while, curiously, in conversation with Radio 4, suggesting (under tough questioning) the proactive cyber-offensives played a role in the Falklands War of 1982. As Ferguson points out the war in the south Atlantic happened a year before the first TCP/IP based wide area network became operational.

Confusion about technical terms in a former Naval chief turned government minister is one thing but it's far more of a worry for someone chosen to serve as the UK's first cyber security minister. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Goog says patch⁵⁰ your Chrome
64-bit browser loads cat vids FIFTEEN PERCENT faster!
Chinese hackers spied on investigators of Flight MH370 - report
Classified data on flight's disappearance pinched
KER-CHING! CryptoWall ransomware scam rakes in $1 MEEELLION
Anatomy of the net's most destructive ransomware threat
NIST to sysadmins: clean up your SSH mess
Too many keys, too badly managed
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
Researchers camouflage haxxor traps with fake application traffic
Honeypots sweetened to resemble actual workloads, complete with 'secure' logins
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.