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NSA wants to hire hackers</h1><span class="byline" style="margin-top:0px;margin-right:0px;margin-bottom:0px;margin-left:0px;padding-top:0px;padding-right:0px;padding-bottom:0px;padding-left:0px;border-top-width:0px;border-right-width:0px;border-bottom-width:0px;border-left-width:0px;border-style:initial;border-color:initial;outline-width:0px;outline-style:initial;outline-color:initial;font-size:11px;vertical-align:baseline;background-image:initial;background-color:transparent;color:rgb(102,102,102);background-repeat:initial initial">By <a href="mailto:stacy.cowley@turner.com" style="margin-top:0px;margin-right:0px;margin-bottom:0px;margin-left:0px;padding-top:0px;padding-right:0px;padding-bottom:0px;padding-left:0px;border-top-width:0px;border-right-width:0px;border-bottom-width:0px;border-left-width:0px;border-style:initial;border-color:initial;outline-width:0px;outline-style:initial;outline-color:initial;font-size:11px;vertical-align:baseline;background-image:initial;background-color:transparent;color:rgb(0,66,118);text-decoration:none;background-repeat:initial initial">Stacy Cowley</a></span> <a href="https://twitter.com/intent/user?screen_name=cnnmoneytech" class="soc-twtname" style="margin-top:0px;margin-right:0px;margin-bottom:0px;margin-left:0px;padding-top:0px;padding-right:0px;padding-bottom:0px;padding-left:0px;border-top-width:0px;border-right-width:0px;border-bottom-width:0px;border-left-width:0px;border-style:initial;border-color:initial;outline-width:0px;outline-style:initial;outline-color:initial;font-size:12px;vertical-align:baseline;background-image:initial;background-color:transparent;color:rgb(0,66,118);text-decoration:none;background-repeat:initial initial">@CNNMoneyTech</a> <span class="cnnDateStamp" style="margin-top:0px;margin-right:0px;margin-bottom:0px;margin-left:0px;padding-top:0px;padding-right:0px;padding-bottom:0px;padding-left:0px;border-top-width:0px;border-right-width:0px;border-bottom-width:0px;border-left-width:0px;border-style:initial;border-color:initial;outline-width:0px;outline-style:initial;outline-color:initial;font-size:11px;vertical-align:baseline;background-image:initial;background-color:transparent;color:rgb(102,102,102);background-repeat:initial initial">July 28, 2012: 10:37 AM ET</span><div class="socialMediaToolbarContainer" style="margin-top:0px;margin-right:0px;margin-bottom:0px;margin-left:0px;padding-top:0px;padding-right:0px;padding-bottom:0px;padding-left:0px;border-top-width:0px;border-right-width:0px;border-bottom-width:0px;border-left-width:0px;border-style:initial;border-color:initial;outline-width:0px;outline-style:initial;outline-color:initial;font-size:12px;vertical-align:baseline;background-image:initial;background-color:transparent;background-repeat:initial initial">
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<img src="http://i2.cdn.turner.com/money/2012/07/27/technology/defcon-nsa/keith-alexander.top.jpg" alt="NSA Director Keith Alexander came to hacker gathering DefCon for the first time to recruit from the show&#39;s ranks." width="475" height="307" border="0" style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; border-top-width: 0px; border-right-width: 0px; border-bottom-width: 0px; border-left-width: 0px; border-style: initial; border-color: initial; outline-width: 0px; outline-style: initial; outline-color: initial; font-size: 12px; vertical-align: baseline; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-color: transparent; background-position: initial initial; background-repeat: initial initial; "><p style="margin-top:0px;margin-right:0px;margin-bottom:0px;margin-left:0px;padding-top:8px;padding-right:0px;padding-bottom:8px;padding-left:0px;border-top-width:0px;border-right-width:0px;border-bottom-width:0px;border-left-width:0px;border-style:initial;border-color:initial;outline-width:0px;outline-style:initial;outline-color:initial;font-size:11px;vertical-align:baseline;background-image:initial;background-color:transparent;line-height:16px;color:rgb(102,102,102);background-repeat:initial initial">
NSA Director Keith Alexander came to hacker gathering DefCon for the first time to recruit from the show&#39;s ranks.</p></div><p style="margin-top:0px;margin-right:0px;margin-bottom:0px;margin-left:0px;padding-top:0px;padding-right:0px;padding-bottom:20px;padding-left:0px;border-top-width:0px;border-right-width:0px;border-bottom-width:0px;border-left-width:0px;border-style:initial;border-color:initial;outline-width:0px;outline-style:initial;outline-color:initial;font-size:14px;vertical-align:baseline;background-image:initial;background-color:transparent;line-height:19px;background-repeat:initial initial">
LAS VEGAS (CNNMoney) -- Wearing a t-shirt and jeans, America&#39;s top spymaster -- National Security Agency Director Gen. Keith Alexander, also the head of the U.S. Cyber Command -- took the stage Friday at the nation&#39;s largest hacker convention to deliver a recruiting pitch.</p>
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&quot;In this room, this room right here, is the talent our nation needs to secure cyberspace,&quot; Alexander told the standing-room-only audience at DefCon, a grassroots gathering in Las Vegas expected to draw a record 16,000 attendees this year. &quot;We need great talent. We don&#39;t pay as high as everybody else, but we&#39;re fun to be around.&quot;</p>
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Alexander&#39;s appearance is a milestone for DefCon, a hacker mecca with an often-uneasy relationship with the feds. DefCon is the older, wilder and far less official sibling of BlackHat, a cybersecurity conference that wrapped up Thursday in Las Vegas.</p>
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BlackHat draws corporate infosecurity workers in suits. At DefCon, they switch to t-shirts and spend the weekend mingling with cryptographers, script kiddies, security researchers and a liberal smattering of military and law enforcement agents -- both in and out of uniform.</p>
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DefCon is famed as an elite hacking showcase. The <a href="http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/07/defcon20-badge/" target="new" style="margin-top:0px;margin-right:0px;margin-bottom:0px;margin-left:0px;padding-top:0px;padding-right:0px;padding-bottom:0px;padding-left:0px;border-top-width:0px;border-right-width:0px;border-bottom-width:0px;border-left-width:0px;border-style:initial;border-color:initial;outline-width:0px;outline-style:initial;outline-color:initial;font-size:15px;vertical-align:baseline;background-image:initial;background-color:transparent;color:rgb(0,66,118);text-decoration:none;font-weight:bold;background-repeat:initial initial">registration badges alone are a technical feat</a>, featuring a customizable circuit board and cryptographic scavenger-hunt puzzle. A hacker group called Ninja Networks set up a private cellular network to chat on during the show -- a stunt that drew admiring praise from Alexander during his talk.</p>
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Those are the kinds of skills the government needs, he said. Playing to his audience, Alexander rattled off a long list of tech-industry stars like Vint Cerf and Dave Aitel who did pioneering work on the federal payroll.</p>
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&quot;We&#39;re the ones who built this Internet,&quot; Alexander said, citing the <a href="http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2012/07/24/untruths-at-the-origins-of-the-internet/?iid=EL" style="margin-top:0px;margin-right:0px;margin-bottom:0px;margin-left:0px;padding-top:0px;padding-right:0px;padding-bottom:0px;padding-left:0px;border-top-width:0px;border-right-width:0px;border-bottom-width:0px;border-left-width:0px;border-style:initial;border-color:initial;outline-width:0px;outline-style:initial;outline-color:initial;font-size:15px;vertical-align:baseline;background-image:initial;background-color:transparent;color:rgb(0,66,118);text-decoration:none;font-weight:bold;background-repeat:initial initial">key role agencies like DARPA</a> (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) played in the network&#39;s early days. &quot;Now we&#39;re the ones who have to keep it secure, and I think you folks can help do that.&quot;</p>
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<a href="http://money.cnn.com/2012/07/25/technology/blackhat-shawn-henry/index.htm?iid=EL" style="margin-top:0px;margin-right:0px;margin-bottom:0px;margin-left:0px;padding-top:0px;padding-right:0px;padding-bottom:0px;padding-left:0px;border-top-width:0px;border-right-width:0px;border-bottom-width:0px;border-left-width:0px;border-style:initial;border-color:initial;outline-width:0px;outline-style:initial;outline-color:initial;font-size:16px;vertical-align:baseline;background-image:initial;background-color:transparent;color:rgb(0,66,118);text-decoration:none;background-repeat:initial initial">Related story: Former FBI cyber cop worries about a digital 9/11</a></div>
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To hammer the point home, the NSA set up a special recruiting site for the show: <a href="http://www.nsa.gov/careers/dc20/" target="new" style="margin-top:0px;margin-right:0px;margin-bottom:0px;margin-left:0px;padding-top:0px;padding-right:0px;padding-bottom:0px;padding-left:0px;border-top-width:0px;border-right-width:0px;border-bottom-width:0px;border-left-width:0px;border-style:initial;border-color:initial;outline-width:0px;outline-style:initial;outline-color:initial;font-size:15px;vertical-align:baseline;background-image:initial;background-color:transparent;color:rgb(0,66,118);text-decoration:none;font-weight:bold;background-repeat:initial initial">http://www.nsa.gov/careers/dc20/</a>. It&#39;s not your standard government careers page. This one includes the line: &quot;If you have a few, shall we say, <i style="margin-top:0px;margin-right:0px;margin-bottom:0px;margin-left:0px;padding-top:0px;padding-right:0px;padding-bottom:0px;padding-left:0px;border-top-width:0px;border-right-width:0px;border-bottom-width:0px;border-left-width:0px;border-style:initial;border-color:initial;outline-width:0px;outline-style:initial;outline-color:initial;font-size:15px;vertical-align:baseline;background-image:initial;background-color:transparent;background-repeat:initial initial">indiscretions</i> in your past, don&#39;t be alarmed.&quot;</p>
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The NSA is especially keen to draw in people like those holed up in a conference room just 20 feet away from Alexander&#39;s presentation, hunched over laptops and takeout cartons. They&#39;re competitors in Defcon&#39;s &quot;Capture the Flag&quot; battle, a kind of geek Olympics.</p>
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Hacking is usually a glamorless sport, but Defcon plays up the drama for its famed-in-nerd-circles CTF showdowns. In a darkened arena filled with rock music and colored laser lights, 20 competing teams fight for 48 hours to break into each other&#39;s servers and steal key information, called &quot;flags,&quot; while holding off rival attackers. The winner will be announced Sunday evening during DefCon&#39;s closing ceremonies.</p>
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Coders from around the globe battle through a series of qualifying rounds to make it to the CTF. &quot;These hackers here are the top of the world,&quot; one observer murmured in hushed tones, watching the teams bang feverishly on their computers a few hours after the contest&#39;s Friday morning kickoff.</p>
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The NSA would love to learn more about the exploits those CTF hackers are using. But do the hackers want to play ball?</p><p style="margin-top:0px;margin-right:0px;margin-bottom:0px;margin-left:0px;padding-top:0px;padding-right:0px;padding-bottom:20px;padding-left:0px;border-top-width:0px;border-right-width:0px;border-bottom-width:0px;border-left-width:0px;border-style:initial;border-color:initial;outline-width:0px;outline-style:initial;outline-color:initial;font-size:14px;vertical-align:baseline;background-image:initial;background-color:transparent;line-height:19px;background-repeat:initial initial">
The audience reaction to Alexander&#39;s talk was generally favorable. Organizers had to turn away hundreds of attendees from the at-capacity conference hall, and the crowd that made it in listened attentively to the general&#39;s talk.</p>
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One attendee near the front -- a corporate security researcher who specializes in defending against digital espionage -- said he came away impressed. More importantly, from NSA&#39;s point of view, he says he would consider checking out the agency&#39;s career options.</p>
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&quot;I think it would be thrilling,&quot; said the researcher, who asked to remain anonymous. &quot;I mean, that&#39;s the real deal. We&#39;re trying to protect our corporate IP. They&#39;re trying to protect the country and people. It would be absolutely awesome -- even though the pay is nothing.&quot;</p>
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Of course, not everyone was so easily won over. A few rows further back, a group of cynics kept up a running counterpoint to Alexander&#39;s talk.</p><p style="margin-top:0px;margin-right:0px;margin-bottom:0px;margin-left:0px;padding-top:0px;padding-right:0px;padding-bottom:20px;padding-left:0px;border-top-width:0px;border-right-width:0px;border-bottom-width:0px;border-left-width:0px;border-style:initial;border-color:initial;outline-width:0px;outline-style:initial;outline-color:initial;font-size:14px;vertical-align:baseline;background-image:initial;background-color:transparent;line-height:19px;background-repeat:initial initial">
&quot;Sometimes you guys get a bad rep,&quot; Alexander said at one point. &quot;From my perspective, what you&#39;re doing to figure out the vulnerabilities in our systems is absolutely needed.&quot;</p><p style="margin-top:0px;margin-right:0px;margin-bottom:0px;margin-left:0px;padding-top:0px;padding-right:0px;padding-bottom:20px;padding-left:0px;border-top-width:0px;border-right-width:0px;border-bottom-width:0px;border-left-width:0px;border-style:initial;border-color:initial;outline-width:0px;outline-style:initial;outline-color:initial;font-size:14px;vertical-align:baseline;background-image:initial;background-color:transparent;line-height:19px;background-repeat:initial initial">
&quot;Then stop arresting us!&quot; one of the hecklers called back.</p><p style="margin-top:0px;margin-right:0px;margin-bottom:0px;margin-left:0px;padding-top:0px;padding-right:0px;padding-bottom:20px;padding-left:0px;border-top-width:0px;border-right-width:0px;border-bottom-width:0px;border-left-width:0px;border-style:initial;border-color:initial;outline-width:0px;outline-style:initial;outline-color:initial;font-size:14px;vertical-align:baseline;background-image:initial;background-color:transparent;line-height:19px;background-repeat:initial initial">
<i style="margin-top:0px;margin-right:0px;margin-bottom:0px;margin-left:0px;padding-top:0px;padding-right:0px;padding-bottom:0px;padding-left:0px;border-top-width:0px;border-right-width:0px;border-bottom-width:0px;border-left-width:0px;border-style:initial;border-color:initial;outline-width:0px;outline-style:initial;outline-color:initial;font-size:15px;vertical-align:baseline;background-image:initial;background-color:transparent;background-repeat:initial initial">-CNN&#39;s Heather Kelly contributed reporting</i> <a href="http://money.cnn.com/2012/07/27/technology/defcon-nsa/index.htm?source=cnn_bin#TOP" style="margin-top:0px;margin-right:0px;margin-bottom:0px;margin-left:0px;padding-top:0px;padding-right:0px;padding-bottom:0px;padding-left:0px;border-top-width:0px;border-right-width:0px;border-bottom-width:0px;border-left-width:0px;border-style:initial;border-color:initial;outline-width:0px;outline-style:initial;outline-color:initial;font-size:15px;vertical-align:baseline;background-image:initial;background-color:transparent;color:rgb(0,66,118);text-decoration:none;font-weight:bold;background-repeat:initial initial"><img src="http://i.cdn.turner.com/money/images/bug.gif" alt="To top of page" border="0" width="7" height="7" style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; border-top-width: 0px; border-right-width: 0px; border-bottom-width: 0px; border-left-width: 0px; border-style: initial; border-color: initial; outline-width: 0px; outline-style: initial; outline-color: initial; font-size: 15px; vertical-align: baseline; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-color: transparent; background-position: initial initial; background-repeat: initial initial; "></a></p>
</div></span><div><br></div>-- <br><font face="arial, helvetica, sans-serif">Paul A. Vander Waerdt</font><div><font class="Apple-style-span" face="arial, helvetica, sans-serif"><br></font></div>