Feeds

Cyber security minister ridiculed over s'kiddie hire plan

'Naughty boys' nonsense

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

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. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Israel's Iron Dome missile tech stolen by Chinese hackers
Corporate raiders Comment Crew fingered for attacks
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
Four fake Google haxbots hit YOUR WEBSITE every day
Goog the perfect ruse to slip into SEO orfice
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.