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Reuters has a story about Jason Larsen, a hacker on the federal payroll. Larsen does some white hat hacking – testing the security of chemical plants and the like – on behalf of the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory in Idaho Falls. His ultimate boss: the United States Department of Energy.

He’s not the only hacker on Uncle Sam’s tab. The Cyber Corps, for example, is a scholarship program that trains computer security specialists to protect the government’s information technology infrastructure. In January 1999, after a series of hacker attacks on federal Web sites, President Bill Clinton declared that it was time for the U.S. government to combat this so-called cyberterrorism. Selected bachelor’s and master’s degree students in computer science and engineering receive a full ride for two years at one of a handful of universities, in exchange for two years of service after graduation. Participating schools now include the University of Tulsa, University of Idaho, Purdue University, Carnegie Mellon University, Iowa State University, and the Naval Postgraduate School.

Hacking pays after all.

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