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Hackers: Let's Hire Them Before It's Too Late

by Adam Levin

NEW YORK ( Credit.com) -- So what's it worth to you to prevent worldwide economic collapse, or even a major interruption of essential services such as power or water?

These are not hypothetical questions. Nor will they be caused by the Eurozone disaster, a double-dip recession, the disintegration of institutions deemed "too big to fail" or government spending run amok.

We must do what it always takes to get the best of the best of the hackers -- educate them, nurture them and pay them top dollar -- before it's too late.

I am talking about cybergeddon -- the endgame of cyber warfare, a concept well-worn in national security organization conference rooms and the situation rooms of nations around the globe. It is somewhat newer to the front page of The New York Times, which has recently featured several investigative reports about Stuxnet and Flame, two potent worms created for international espionage that got loose and went viral.

We all know the hackers are out there. That's not going to change. The question is, can we change the dynamic? Or more to the point, can we hire them -- a whole lot of them? Simply put, how much should nations pay to build a cyber army (civilian and military) of "white hat" hackers and talented computer security experts with the skills to out-hack or "out-code" the legions of nation state-sponsored or politically motivated cyberterrorists sworn to destroy our way of life?

Everywhere we turn, there are reports of public- and private-sector breaches and compromised data. The SEC requires publicly traded companies disclose data breaches, especially when intellectual property is stolen. Even when the forces of good arguably get it right, unintended consequences and leaks jeopardize the results.

Stuxnet is just one example. Written by American and Israeli spy agencies to sabotage Iran's nuclear enrichment facilities, it at least partially succeeded in its mission, the Times revealed this month. Unfortunately, its creators did not account for the possibility that it might escape. It did, as did Flame. The result is scary: The bad guys have these worms and can use them.

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