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  • Fred Cohen
    The U.S. Recruits New Hackers By Noah Shachtman <mailto:
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 7, 2001
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      The U.S. Recruits New Hackers
      By Noah Shachtman <mailto:<a href="mailto:noahmax@...?Subject=Re:%20(ai)%20The%20U.S.%20Recruits%20New%20Hackers%2526In-Reply-To=%2526lt;758D1C1C469D114CBC6A96FE41155B6103D7C8AF@...>">noahmax@...</a>?subject
      =The U.S. Recruits New
      Hackers>
      <a href="http://www.wired.com/news/politics/0,1283,46567,00.html">http://www.wired.com/news/politics/0,1283,46567,00.html</a>
      <<a href="http://www.wired.com/news/politics/0,1283,46567,00.html">http://www.wired.com/news/politics/0,1283,46567,00.html</a>>
      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 <<a href="http://www.nsf.gov">http://www.nsf.gov</a>> 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 <<a href="http://www.purdue.edu">http://www.purdue.edu</a>> 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 <<a href="http://www.nasa.gov">http://www.nasa.gov</a>> , 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.
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