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UK.gov open to hiring EX-CON hackers for cyber reserves

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Ross Brewer, vice president at security tools firm LogRhythm, said the openness to hire hackers could be based on the previously stated intention for the UK to have a cyber offensive capability, a move he reckons is going in the wrong direction.

“Previous warnings about the dangers of blindly attacking the networks of 'enemy' states still stand, and employing convicted hackers to carry out such pre-emptive strikes could lead the government, and the country, into dangerous waters if not managed correctly," Brewer said.

“Modern cyber criminals are experts in their own right, so it makes sense to build an army of highly specialist reserves to combat them. While we know that there is a dangerous dearth of skilled individuals in the cyber arena, the government needs to tread very carefully if looking to employ convicted criminals and ensure no blurring of the lines of morality. Ask yourself, for instance, whether it would be logical to hire ex-bank robbers as security guards for the banks that they robbed!"

Despite these criticisms, Brewer did see some potential benefits in hiring ex-hackers.

"That said, convicted hackers are likely to be some of the best in the business and therefore employing them would allow the government to tap into skills it may otherwise not have access to."

"While White has stated that each applicant will be assessed on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the severity of convictions, the unit will need to ensure it does not become a body of outlaws deployed to attack others. What’s more, it will be absolutely critical to ensure that powers are not abused and citizens’ information is safeguarded against rogue hackers permitted into this privileged position."

Brewer concluded: “Giving convicted hackers a chance is one thing, trusting them implicitly is quite another,” he concluded. ®

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