UK spy agency now hiring hackers to target terrorist networks

GCHQ said it's "openly" recruiting hackers for the first time, months after the Snowden documents showed the spy agency used them to target both terrorists and civilians.

(Image via Wikimedia Commons)

British spy agency GCHQ is for the first time openly hiring hackers.

In a job posting Tuesday, the eavesdropping intelligence agency said it was looking for computer network operation specialists, which "might need to develop software to access the computers of a terrorist group, or carry out operations to retrieve vital online clues about the location and identity of members of an organized crime ring," the posting reads.

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The job also aims to help in "detecting and preventing attempts to attack the critical national infrastructure, or seeking to defend government systems against criminals seeking to steal information, identities or money."

It comes just months after documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden detailed how extensive the network of malware is operated by the UK agency, and its four other friendly allied nations.

Successful candidates will receive top-secret (DV) clearance, and a starting salary of £27,913 ($43,700).

The news is hot on the heels of news that the Conservative government, which won a majority in last week's election, is seeking to reintroduce legislation that would vastly increase the country's domestic surveillance capabilities.

The UK Home Secretary Theresa May said Saturday hinted that she would push forward with the bill now that the Liberal Democrats were no longer in government to block the plans.

That law, the Draft Communications Data Bill (but also known by critics as the "snoopers' charter") would give government agencies far wider access to phone records and browsing activity, text messages, and social media use.

France and Canada followed in similar footsteps, pushing surveillance bills through their respective parliaments -- and succeeding.