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Hacker 'mudge' Gets DARPA Job

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Peiter "Mudge" Zatko

BBN Technologies

Peiter Zatko--a respected hacker known as "Mudge"--has been tapped to be a program manager at DARPA, where he will be in charge of funding research designed to help give the U.S. government tools needed to protect against cyberattacks, CNET has learned.

Zatko will become a program manager in mid-March within the Strategic Technologies Office at DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), which is the research and development office for the Department of Defense. His focus will be cybersecurity, he said in an interview with CNET on Tuesday.

One of his main goals will be to fund researchers at hacker spaces, start-ups, and boutiques who are most likely to develop technologies that can leapfrog what comes out of large corporations. "I want revolutionary changes. I don't want evolutionary ones," he said.

He's also hoping that giving a big push to research and development will do more to advance the progress of cybersecurity than public policy decisions have been able to do over the past few decades.

"Not much has changed" with regard to strengthening the U.S. cybersecurity position, he said. "As a society, we have a larger dependence on being wired in, yet the government only focuses on particular areas."

The connectedness of commercial, government, and military networks makes the situation even more dire, he said. "I'm going to argue that they're all pretty much intertwined now and we've seen how vulnerable some of those sectors are now. That's unacceptable," Zatko said. "I aim to fix that."

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