Monday, August 23, 2010

Patriot Hackers

Editor's note:  I began writing this the last week of July.  Today I decided it was as good as it's going to get - added a little, edited a bit and pulled the trigger.  I hope it gets the point across. 

I haven't posted in a while - a week or more.  I know, bad blog etiquette.  I apologize.

Quite literally I've been rattling around my own head reeling from the experience of Def Con.  DC is like a drug to someone like me. The pure outlet of creativity and just being among others (about 10,000 by best estimates) afflicted with the same kind of analytic thinking I have.   Non-hackers don't see the world the same way.  When I go to the grocery store I choose my parking space according to it's closeness to a shopping cart corral.  When I see a nifty mechanism - like a bus door - I take it apart in my head and try to discover it's weaknesses.  When I get a new tool or gadget I take it apart, improve it where possible, exploit weaknesses where I can.  Everything is like that in my mind.  Nothing escapes hacking.  I even hack food.  It's crazy.  It tends to drive the normal people around me crazy too.

Anyway - back to Def Con.  It was beyond cathartic to know that I'm not alone.  Not by a long shot.  I now understand why hackers make the pilgrimage every year and why the con grows every year as more of us discover it.

One of the overriding things that I came away with was the concept of the patriot hacker.  I attended a couple of sessions of "meet the fed".  This has traditionally been an interesting meetup of hackers and their supposed nemesis in law enforcement.  The truth - It becomes really obvious that for the most part the hackers and the feds are on the same side.  Sure the hackers complain and make jibes and directly inflammatory comments about the feds methods.  But the overriding theme is how do we do this better?  Protect our country that is.

I'd say that 90% of the questions had to do with what can we do to help? or How do I come work for you? or Will you stop doing this the dumb way and listen to us?

The feds I have to say were great.  The tops of most of our organizations get it.  They are frustrated by government regulations in areas like hiring.  All but one agency (the Navy) lamented that it takes at least a year to become an employee and that there was almost no leeway for those that have a "colorful" past.

I've seen this first hand as a good friend of mine went to work for the federal government a few years ago.  It took him about a year - traveling to DC on his own dime for multiple interviews and testing. Then the FBI background checks and more interviews.  Then months of training on how the government does things. 

With recent developments of the Chinese, Russian and middle eastern countries taking advantage of their own patriot hacker ranks the US is like a third world country hoping to someday become a nuclear power.

Anyway enough rambling.  The point - if there is one to this post - is that it's time to take advantage of the patriot hacker in the US.  In order to do that we need to change business as usual in DC.  Get these agencies the talent that they desperately need.  Where do we start?

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