September 7th, 2002, 07:33 AM
U.S. Recruiting New Hackers
Just want to share this.
Original article here
The U.S. Recruits New Hackers
By Noah Shachtman
The government desperately needs experts to fight hackers. So they've recruited a 63-year-old retired aerospace engineer, a midwestern mother of three, and a long-haired former teen golfing champ to do the job.
The National Science Foundation is handing out $8.6 million worth of two-year training scholarships in computer security, in return for two years of government service.
These three -- all students at the University of Tulsa, one of six participating institutions -- are among the first of an expected 200 people to begin their studies.
Julie Evans found the inspiration to fight computer viruses from a human disease -- her daughter's cancer.
Evans, 42, is a self-described "geek," with eight computers in her Oklahoma City home. For most of her adult life, she's worked as a freelance programmer, raised her three kids, and slowly, one class at a time, earned her bachelor's degree in computer science, finally getting her diploma in 1998.
This year, she was looking around for a computer science master's program.
Then, her oldest daughter, Brandi, a 21-year-old nursing student, was diagnosed with liver cancer. If the cancer spread, Brandi was dead. An immediate transplant was needed.
Luckily, only a month and six days after her diagnosis, Brandi received her new liver at Baptist Hospital in Oklahoma City.
Her mother felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude.
"I can't think of another country in the world where my daughter would have gotten the transplant in time," Evans said. "I feel a debt to my country because I still have my daughter."
So when she read about Tulsa's new NSF scholarships, it appealed to both her sense of service and to her natural affinity for silicon.
It's also a sweet deal for Evans and her fellow students: The NSF pays full tuition for two years, plus room and board, travel costs and a monthly stipend of about $1,000.
"I could have never done it if it wasn't paid for," she said.
Such incentives are sorely needed, say experts, to address the government's gargantuan need for computer security experts.
"In academia, we're producing 3,000 to 4,000 people a year with some credible security training. But the demand is in the hundreds of thousands ... and government pay rates have not been competitive with the industry," said Eugene Spafford, a Purdue University professor who's supervising his school's NSF security scholarships.
So the few hundred new recruits -- even when combined with additional trainees supplied by the Department of Defense, which is set to announce a program similar to the NSF's in the next few days -- won't even begin to scratch the surface of what's needed.
These hacker-battlers need not be former hackers themselves.
"When people train to be detectives, they don't commit murders," said Sujeet Shenoi, who oversees Tulsa's Cyber Corps program.
Some recruits, it seems, have done just about everything but hack.
As a teenager, Rick Ayers won 15 straight junior golf tournaments and rubbed elbows with legends like Jack Nicklaus. In college, he studied architecture at Louisiana Tech, but split school to go on tour with a local band.
While on the road, Rick met a girl in Tulsa and eventually moved there to be with her. Rick wound up as a programmer at a local market research firm, discovered he liked the work and went back to school to complement his on-the-job training.
Always looking for the next opportunity, he was hooked as soon as Shenoi told him about the NSF program. Now, Rick's studying secure e-commerce and database design, and working his way toward the federal certificates he'll need for a government computer security job.
Howard Barnes already has more than a bit of government experience. He joined the Army Reserves as a high school senior in 1956, serving on active duty for six months at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri. His first job out of college was with NASA, designing flight simulation programs. Later, at Boeing, Howard honed the airborne software of the B-52 bomber.
But his last position, with a manufacturing division of Cessna Aircraft, was dull, leaving him without a sense of purpose. So he, too, leapt at the chance to join the Tulsa program.
"My sister said, 'Some of these adventures aren't as much fun as you get older,'" Howard said.
"But I worked in a computer-related field for 35, 40 years. I think I have some talent, some skills. And I think I'm supposed to use them for a good purpose."
And so, 46 years later, Howard Barnes is once again a new recruit.
Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it.-Reaper Man
September 7th, 2002, 05:20 PM
This actually seems pretty interesting. I will have to read the full article. I am almost sure that I would try to jump all over something like this if I was not married with two young children. This is one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that you don't want to pass up. Anyway, I think it's a great idea by the government. You know - I don't think I have really realized the pot of gold I've reached by getting into the Security field. Almost everyday, I hear about how jobs in this field are in such high demand, especially nowadays. I really feel lucky to have gotten my foot in the door. Again, great post!
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