The recruiting will be going on this week at the Black Hat and Defcon security conferences, which are aimed at and populated by often-criminal hackers, who play a mean game of "spot the fed" and "hack everyone else in the place."
It's not likely the feds will go unspotted or unhacked, but they will probably not be snubbed either.
Hackers need jobs just like the rest of us, and the intelligence agencies do offer the chance to spend all your time right up on the cutting edge technically, though often far over its far side ethically.
That's the price you pay in cyberwar.
The NSA needs people who can harden a firewall, keep up software patches and updates up to date, do penetration testing to make sure NSA knows where its known-unknowns are and suspects where it unknown-unknowns may be (follow the sound of Mandarin and smell of borscht; you'll find them).
The agencies want to hire "cyber warriors... not rocket scientists," according to Richard George, technical director for the NSA's cyber-defense branch.
NSA expects to hire 1,500 people during the next fiscal year – and to work in an atmosphere that has already adapted to be more friendly toward attitudes toward conventional dress and behavior that would leave them ostracized in many federal agencies – especially intelligence or law-enforcement agencies whose unassailable expectation of conservative dress and deportment means the straits are laced, the collars are buttoned down and the tips are buck.
At NSA, "when I walk down the hall there are people that I see every day and I never know what color their hair's going to be," George said. "And it's a bonus if they're wearing shoes. We've been in some sense a collection of geeks for a long, long time."
A hacker known to his family as Jeff Moss and to the underworld as Dark Tangent told Reuters that Black Hat and Defcon are good places for both hackers and intelligence agencies to hook up.
"They (the agencies) need people with the hacker skill set, hacker mind-set. It's not like you go to a hacker university and get blessed with a badge that says you're a hacker," according to Moss, who now works as one a member of the Dept. of Homeland Security's security advisory council.
"It's a self-appointed label -- you think like one or you don't," Moss said.