The economy may be down, but there's one industry that's on the way up: Cybersecurity.
As part of a broader recruitment drive, the American Government has outsourced a defence contractor to place advertisements seeking to hire 'cyberexperts', or hackers. More than 250 positions are expected to be filled by 2011.
According to a Yahoo Tech report, ethical hackers are being sought to help bolster American security ranks, with particular emphasis given to role-playing scenarios that used to be the domain of Hollywood thrillers.
Films such as Die Hard 4, War Games and Sneakers have long predicted (with typical Hollywood logic) that the threat of a cyber attack on military and civilian systems is omnipresent and difficult to fight against an almost invisible enemy. Now the game is real.
Defence contractor, General Dynamics Information Technology has been acting as a recruiter for the US Government's Homeland Security agency. As part of the criteria of ads listed last month, applicants were encouraged to be able to think like the enemy, and understand how to foil the enemy's hacking attacks, in addition to the understanding and analysis of Internet traffic and vulnerabilities within federal systems.
The new Obama administration is taking the nature of cyber security very seriously and ordered a 60 day review of how data and networks are protected by Federal bodies.
Recent media reports of Chinese hackers infiltrating US networks have placed the issue of hacking back in the headlines again. It's no wonder the US government are looking to hire applicants with some very special background skills.
According to the Yahoo Tech report, $100 million has been spent over the last six months cleaning up the damage from federally targeted computer attacks. But can ethical hackers keep one step ahead of their black knight counterparts?
The US Government will need to spend good money to attract the best and the brightest, especially since the private sector has the potential to outspend on employees and offer greater benefits to staff.