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Pentagon trains 'ethical' computer hackers for cyber defense

The Pentagon has changed its regulations to allow its own personnel to be trained in computer hacking.

The U.S. Department of Defense this month changed its regulations to allow its own personnel to be trained in computer hacking.

The department says it's not training personnel to become active hackers against other nations, but rather to understand how they think in an effort to prevent penetration by foreign black hat hackers, according to an article in Time magazine.

Military experts who pass strict vetting processes can take week-long courses to become "certified ethical hackers," according to DoD Directive 8570.

The courses, which cost $450 to $2,500, train participants in 150 hacking techniques, from viruses and worms to sniffers and phishing.

Participants must sign legally-binding pledges that they will remain white hat hackers -- that is, not engage in malicious activity.

The U.S. military insists they're not teaching people to hack, but rather conduct "penetration testing" or "red-teaming" -- in other words, keeping a squad of guys who act as foes during war games.

The question is whether there's any use in trying. The Pentagon has admitted that its information networks are hacked hundreds of times per day.

Among the perpetrators: more than 100 foreign intelligence organizations.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com