Half of UK businesses will consider hiring hackers (Wired UK)


Major UK companies could turn to hackers to help defend against cyber attacks

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Research conducted by KPMG has revealed that half of
UK companies surveyed would consider hiring a hacker or person with a criminal record to help
defend against attacks. The poll of UK businesses employing more
than 500 people also found that many were deeply concerned about
the inadequacies of their cyber defences.

Nearly three quarters of businesses said that new threats and
challenges required more skilled and specially trained IT staff,
with 64 percent of respondents saying that conventional IT skills
were not up to scratch.

Of the 300 senior IT and HR people surveyed, 57
percent said they struggled to keep hold of skilled cyber security
staff due to “aggressive headhunting”. As this expertise is in high
demand, companies are increasingly likely to turn to the criminal
underworld.

With a big skills gap to fill, 53 percent of
respondents said they would consider employing a hacker to improve
their IT security. Almost the same number of people (52 percent)
said they wouldn’t be dissuaded from hiring a hacker even if they
had a criminal record.

In the US the practice of hiring reformed
hackers is already commonplace. Many white hat and grey hat
hackers, along with hackers with a criminal past, have been
recruited by major companies to bolster their defences.

The UK government has also
said that it isn’t averse to using the expertise of criminal
hackers. In September 2013 the Ministry of Defence launched a new
£500m initiative known as the Joint
Cyber Reserve Unit
, with the then defence secretary Philip
Hammond refusing to rule out hiring cyber security experts with
criminal convictions.

At the time Mr Hammond said that the armed
forces didn’t exclude people who had criminal convictions, adding
that each case would be looked at “on its merits”.

“The conviction would be examined in terms of
how long ago it was, how serious it was, what sort of sentence had
followed. So I can’t rule it out,” he said.

Convicted hackers are most likely to form part of the UK’s
cyber defence force, a group of computer experts trained by the
top-secret GCHQ. The Joint Cyber Reserve Unit
is intended to work alongside the armed forces to provide cyber
support and potentially launch online attacks.

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17 November 2014 | 4:25 pm – Source: wired.co.uk

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