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By NICOLE PERLROTH
The New York Times
March 24, 2013
WASHINGTON â In the eighth grade, Arlan Jaska figured out how to write a simple
script that could switch his keyboardâs Caps Lock key on and off 6,000 times a
minute. When friends werenât looking, he slipped his program onto their
computers. It was all fun and games until the program spread to his middle
âThey called my parents and told my dad I was hacking their computers,â Mr.
Jaska, 17 years old, recalled. He was grounded and got detention. And he is
just the type the Department of Homeland Security is looking for.
The secretary of that agency, Janet Napolitano, knows she has a problem that
will only worsen. Foreign hackers have been attacking her agencyâs computer
systems. They have also been busy trying to siphon the nationâs wealth and
steal valuable trade secrets. And they have begun probing the nationâs
infrastructure â the power grid, and water and transportation systems.
So she needs her own hackers â 600, the agency estimates. But potential
recruits with the right skills have too often been heading for business, and
those who do choose government work often go to the National Security Agency,
where they work on offensive digital strategies. At Homeland Security, the
emphasis is on keeping hackers out, or playing defense.
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