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Twitter Hacker Gets job for his efforts

Amidst the chaos concerning the Twitter worm that has left the company scrambling for solutions, the author of the malware responsible has ended up scoring job offers from companies for security analysis and web application development.


A 17-year old student named Michael Mooney, known under his user name as “Mikeyy”, from Brooklyn, New York created a worm that took advantage of holes in Twitter’s cross-site scripting and used it to promote a website he ran called StalkDaily. The worm generated thousands of automated tweets which disrupted many users and even inspired others to create similar attacks.

Hackers turning whitehat to get a job

Two companies have already offered Mooney jobs since the outbreak of his worm on Twitter. Mooney has accepted one of these job offers, according to Travis Rowland, 24 years old, founder and CEO of exqSoft Solutions, a Web development firm which was one of the companies which offered Mooney jobs. Rowland had offered him a job which would involve security analysis as well as development of Web applications.


 Rowland had admitted that the hiring of Mooney would give valuable publicity for his company, and that he was sympathetic with Mooney’s plight as he himself used to work in military intelligence, landing a position in a similar fashion.


Mooney had described the creation of worms as a hobby of his, and that he had created five other worms in recent years. He said he understood that he has overstepped boundaries with the release of the Twitter worm but insists that he has no malicious intent and that he only aimed to publicize Twitter’s flaws. However, his parents have still retained the services of a lawyer.


However, Mooney’s case was not the first time a hacker gets attention and job offers from the industry. Just last month, New Zealand-based Owen Thor Walker was offered a position as security consultant in TeltraClear, a New Zealand subsidiary of a major Australian telco. Both cases involved yound hackers getting the world’s attention, and that gives industry members some hope that they may change their erring ways. However, experts in the security industry question the wisdom of companies eagerly hiring these delinquent programmers.


Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos, has criticized Mooney’s actions as “irresponsible”.  He claims Mooney’s exposure of the flaw could have been used by more financially-motivated hackers to steal user information and install more malware. It would have been more responsible, Cluley says, to have just reported the security hole to Twitter. Cluley believes that there are other people who have comparable skill who do not exhibit questionable judgment.


He also condemns the actions of exqSoft as these will encourage other young users to perform similar acts in order to catch the attention of the industry.

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