South Korea has launched a program that aims to find the best hackers and turn them into national defenders against internal and external cyber-attacks, according to CNN Seoul.
The South Korean government, in collaboration with the Korea Information Technology Research Institute (KITRI), has set up a six-month training program called â€œBest of the Bestâ€ to transform the countryâ€™s smartest hackers into national cybercrime fighters.
The candidates, selected from high schools, colleges, and from the ranks of freelancers, need to pass a series of phases before graduating as experts in one of the six fields of the program – security consulting, mobile phone security, converged security, cloud-computing security digital forensic and vulnerability analysis.
The expert then receives a prize of $18,500 along with a strong recommendation to work in a company or a government organization of their choosing.
This program is the governmentâ€™s response to a series of cyber-attacks South Korea had to fend off in 2009 and 2011 when government websites and a local financial institution computer system were subjected to malicious attacks, with estimated losses of tens of millions of dollars.
South Korea looked then toward North Korea as the initiator of these hacks and decided it was time to take action and have their own cyber security experts.
“Cyber attacks in general are getting more and more complicated. It is also known that North Korea is training highly skilled hackers,â€ Jung Soo-whan, of a Korean university, told CNN. “But what if they, for instance, hack into our nuclear power systems? We need a stronger defense system.”
The South Korean initiative comes in a moment when most countries are considering a cyber-security division and invest time and money in training programs for future cybercrime experts.