We all know that the fake news shows like The Daily Show and Colbert Report are a lot smarter and more informative than the nightly “GlobalCarWreckStrangerAbductionSportsHighlight” montage that passes for the local news. Last night’s interview of famed hacker and security consultant Kevin Mitnick on the Colbert report proved it again.
In an interview with Comedy Central host Stephen Colbert wondering aloud whether the U.S. Government shouldn’t be hiring folks like Mitnick as “secret weapons” against China and other governments who are crawling over our sensitive government and private sector networks. Great question, Stephen!
Mitnick’s technical as well as social engineering skills are legendary. The 48 year-old, who spent five years in prison and now runs his own consulting firm, was held in solitary confinement for a year because the authorities feared he might be able to hack into U.S. military Web sites with just a phone call. In 2009, he was famously cut off from his own Facebook account when the company assumed that the account was a fake.
The interview was part of Mitnick’s press tour for his new book, “Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World’s Most Wanted Hacker.” In it, Colbert asks Mitnick about how he got involved in hacking, his early days as a prankster and phone phreaker and about the five years he spent in prison for a series of hacks in the 1990s against telecommunications- and technology firms.
When the subject of Mitnick’s now legendary ability to compromise computer networks came up, Colbert wondered aloud whether the U.S. government shouldn’t hire Mitnick to work for it – given that the “Chinese are crawling all over our networks.” “Couldn’t we unleash you?” Colbert wonders aloud. Of course, the idea of a offensive cyber corps of experts like Mitnick is a great idea. Its also one that Uncle Sam, for all its bluster about “recruiting” at hacker cons, doesn’t have a very good plan to achieve. The truth is, Mitnick’s past criminal activity would almost certainly disqualify him from government work – an obstacle that prevents many of the most talented security experts from contributing their talents to the defense of their nation.