Federal agency recruits hacker teens
August 26, 1999
FAIRFIELD, Connecticut (CNN) -- What image comes to mind when you hear the word hacker?
If it's someone evil or malicious, somebody breaking into computers illegally, you're only partly right.
For instance, Mike Hudack is your typical teenager. He hangs out with friends, loves pizza and argues with his parents that he really is old enough to drive.
So why would the National Security Agency be interested in him? Because this 16-year-old is a computer whiz, a hacker.
"Not every hacker, not everyone who calls themselves a hacker, is a bad person," Mike says. "Most hackers are not malicious. They are good people."
Mike was 12 years old when he bought his first computer.
"And I took it home, and I loved it so much," Mike says. "One of the first things I did with it is I took it apart and then put it back together."
He even set up his own hacker news Web site, offering security advice to government agencies. That is how he got the NSA's attention.
"They visited my site every day and I e-mailed them, they e-mailed me back, telling me about their recruitment program," Mike says.
The NSA says it recruits students like Mike and will pay four years of college tuition, room and board and even a salary.
In exchange, students work summers and at least five years after college for the NSA.
It's tempting for someone like Mike who baby-sits every day after school and during the summer to make a buck.
But he wonders if he can work for the NSA, given that he disagrees with some its policies.
"I would have to think long and hard before I did it," Mike says.
CNN Correspondent Ann Kellan contributed to this report.
World Today: Teenage Hacker Gets Attention of NSA
Mike Hudack's Web page
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