We want people who think like hackers: security head

The Australian Signals Directorate is targeting IT experts and university students to be recruited as government-sanctioned hackers to combat the “unprecedented level of intrusion” into computer networks from foreign online threats.

As cyber attacks sponsored by foreign governments reach record highs, the ASD has launched a recruitment campaign using the tagline “Can you put yourself in the shoes of a hacker?”, aimed at hiring “pene­tration testers” and “intrusion analysts”.

It is the first time the ASD has explicitly advertised for recruits with hacking experience rather than traditional defence capabil­ities. Australian Cyber Security Centre director Major General Stephen Day told The Australian the centre was targeting specialists who “think like hackers” to unravel and understand ­advanced threats against the country’s networks.

“Australian networks, whether government, commercial or personal, are facing an unprecedented level of intrusion activities,” General Day told The Australian.“Advances in inform­ation technology have greatly benefited the conduct of government and … business, and have become essential to everyday communication, (but) advances in information technology can be a double-edged sword.”

He said some recruits would be deployed as so-called “pene­tration testers”, people who “can put themselves into the shoes of a hacker to understand their techniques, use them to test system security and provide meaningful security advice”.

The campaign comes after the ASD responded to 1131 cyber security incidents last year, a 20 per cent increase on 2013 levels. More than half were sponsored by foreign governments.

Of the networks targeted, 35 per cent were federal government, 8 per cent state or local government and 57 per cent were non-government.

The Abbott government is reviewing its 2009 cyber security strategy assisted by a panel with representatives from the Business Council of Australia, Cisco Systems, Telstra and the Australian Strategic Policy ­Institute.

The Australian revealed last week that the government had appointed a former head of Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters, Iain Lobban, to assist the review.

Along with the penetration testers, the ASD also needs reverse engineers, malware analysts, cyber analysts, systems infrastructure specialists and software developers.

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