Can you access protected networks without breaking a sweat? Does just thinking about security exploits get you hot and bothered? Are "spoofing" and "packet sniffing" part of your regular vocabulary? If you answered "Yes" to those questions, and you can prove your hacking prowess at the upcoming DEFCON convention, you may just wind up getting a job offer (and a pension plan) from government agencies like the NSA.
Holiday weekends are dangerous. Even if we took nothing else away from the movie "Independence Day," we got that. But hey, we're human. All those peaceful weekends in the years since the movie came out lulled us into a false sense of security. Then BAM! The OMG h@x0rs struck while we were grilling weenies and celebrating Memorial Day. And for once, the OMG seems justified – apparently, hackers have breached the networks of several top US defense contractors, including Lockheed Martin.
Cisco has managed to shoot a special radiation-hardened router into space, next step global domination. The space router is part of the US Department of Defense's Internet Routing in Space (IRIS), and reached orbit by sharing a rocket with an Intelsat satellite. The goal is to use IP routers in space to deliver voice, data, and video via a satellite network the same way land-based lines are used now.
How does this differ from current satellite data routing? Currently, data is sent to satellites via radio waves from specialized ground substations. By deploying IP routers in orbit, Cisco believes that communication can be accomplished using standard internet protocols.
Now that the IRIS system is in orbit, the US government gets first crack at it. They will spend three months examining possible military uses for the system. After that, Cisco will allow businesses to test the system for one year. Possible issues with latency aside, this could open up an entirely new market driving cheap, flexible communication access around the globe.
Being geek may not be cool, but it has become important enough to a national security concern. In particular, the upcoming shortage of American geeks has the Defense Department concerned that a ‘geek-gap’ will emerge that will pose a distinct national security risk for the U.S. Bottom line: pocket protectors are vital for the front lines in a cyber-conflict.
This might seem counter-intuitive, given more and more of us are immersed in technology. But the Pentagon wants real, honest-to-goodness, bona fide geeks, not geek-wannabes. Were talking here people with computer science degrees, who are capable of working the cutting edge and beyond.
According to DARPA, the Defense Departments research cabal, the “ability to compete in the increasingly internationalized stage will be hindered without college graduates with the ability to understand and innovate cutting edge technologies in the decades to come...Finding the right people with increasingly specialized talent is becoming more difficult and will continue to add risk to a wide range of DoD [Department of Defense] systems that include software development.”
The Defense Department is now on the hunt for a ‘few good geeks’ to supplement the machismo of the regular services. DARPA has started programs, targeted a middle and high schools students, to convince them there is a future in being geek.