Jobs not jail for hackers like McKinnon
By Stewart Mitchell
Posted on 26 May 2013 at 03:06
A leading US cyber defence official has called the looming extradition of British hacker Gary McKinnon “ridiculous”, saying jailing hackers was endangering American defence.
According to John Arquilla, a professor of defence analysis at the US Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, the US should be recruiting hackers such as McKinnon, rather than imprisoning them, in order to improve the country’s cyber defence capabilities.
"I think it's ridiculous. They're trying to use deterrents that won't work,” Arquilla said of McKinnon’s extradition for hacking the Pentagon in an interview with The Guardian.
Most of these sorts of guys can't be vetted in the traditional way. We need a new institutional culture
McKinnon faces up to 70 years in prison for what has been described as the biggest military hack of all time, despite supporters claiming he was only looking for information relating to UFO sightings.
Arquilla said the US needed to establish the equivalent of a “new Bletchley Park”, a centre of excellence where hackers from the US and recruits from other countries could work, claiming that the US was falling behind Asia and Russia in the cyber race.
He said there were only around 100 “master hackers” in the world, most of them based in Eastern Europe and Asia, and that with better cooperation and understanding they could be brought into the system - but only if there was a change of mentality from the military.
"Let's just say that in some places you find guys with body piercings and non-regulation haircuts,” Arquilla said. “But most of these sorts of guys can't be vetted in the traditional way. We need a new institutional culture that allows us to reach out to them."
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