TEHRAN, Oct. 22 (MNA) – Convicted computer hackers will be recruited to the UK's cyber defence force if they pass security vetting, the head of the new unit has said.

Lt Col Michael White told BBC Newsnight he would "look at individuals in the round" when assessing applicants. Recruitment would be focused on "capability development" rather than "personality traits", he added.

Under the £500m initiative, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is set to recruit hundreds of reservists as computer experts to work alongside regular armed forces. The unit will defend national security by safeguarding computer networks and vital data, and it will also launch strikes in cyberspace if necessary.

The MoD said the recruitment, which started in early October, would target regular personnel leaving the armed forces, current and former reservists with the required skills, and civilians with the appropriate technological knowledge.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond unveiled plans for the cyber defence unit last month. Mr Hammond also told Newsnight he could foresee circumstances in which convicted hackers could be employed. "Each individual case would be looked at on its merits," he said.

But one former hacker told Newsnight the government had already undermined its chances of attracting talented individuals.

Dr David Day, a Sheffield Hallam University computer forensics expert who provided evidence for Mr Al-Bassam's conviction, told Newsnight it was a "terrible shame" someone convicted of malicious hacking would find it difficult to get a job in the industry.

"If they have those abilities and those skills, then some of the best talent we can't use," he said. Cyber attacks and crime have become more common in recent years.

In July, it emerged Britain was seeing about 70 sophisticated cyber espionage operations a month against government or industry networks,

GCHQ director Sir Iain Lobban told the BBC business secrets were being stolen on an "industrial scale".

And in a written statement in December last year, Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude said 93% of large corporations and 76% of small businesses had reported a cyber breach in 2012.

Watch Susan Watts' film in which Mustafa al-Bassam and Dr David Day come face to face for the first time on Newsnight on BBC iPlayer and the Newsnight website.


Source: BBC




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