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Hackers congress in Hamburg. Photo: Patrick Lux/Getty

Amid a gaping shortage of skilled cybersecurity hands, a cottage industry has sprung up to fill the demand, with some of the biggest U.S. companies and agencies paying freelance bounties for detecting website vulnerabilities.

What's going on: There are currently some 301,000 cyber industry openings in the U.S., according to Cyber Seek, a firm seeking to close the shortage, forcing unorthodox solutions on the most strategically important employers.

Their target is not college graduates, but simply to lure reliable hackers, or "white hats," out of dark chatrooms and into respectable employ.

  • Websites like Bugcrowd and HackerOne are the Indeeds of this world, reports MIT Tech Review's Martin Giles.
  • Both sites feature "bug bounties" — cash rewards for finding website vulnerabilities.
  • Among those paying bounties: Airbnb, the Pentagon, GM, Lufthansa, and Starbucks, says HackerOne.

Despite the shortage, the pay appears to be generally mediocre or low, the same malady afflicting job categories across the U.S. and European economies.

  • Finding bugs pays in glory more often than in cash, like swag and tours of the U.S. Capitol, writes Tech Review's Erin Winick.
  • In a case study at HackerOne, Shopify said that as of March 15, it had used bounties to resolve 759 bug reports, "thanked" more than 300 hackers, and paid out more than $850,000 in bounties. If all were paid, that comes to about $1,100 per bug report, although in one case, Shopify said, it paid a hacker named @cache-money $15,250 for exposing a critical bug.
  • A Philippine bug hunter profiled by Tech Review earns well under $1,000 a month. At HackerOne, 3% of registered users earn more than $100,000 a year, while 12% earn $20,000 or more.

Go deeper: In February, No Starch Press will publish a how-to book called Real-World Bug Hunting, by Peter Yaworski, subtitled "A Field Guide to Web Hacking."

Go deeper

42 mins ago - World

U.S. strikes Iran-backed militia structures in Syria

President Biden at the Pentagon on Feb. 10. Photo: Alex Brandon - Pool/Getty Images

The United States on Thursday carried out an airstrike against facilities in Syria linked to an Iran-backed militia group, the Pentagon announced.

The state of play: The strike, approved by President Biden, comes "in response to recent attacks against American and Coalition personnel in Iraq, and to ongoing threats to those personnel," Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a statement.

Senate parliamentarian rules $15 minimum wage cannot be included in relief package

Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images

The Senate parliamentarian ruled Thursday that the provision to increase the minimum wage to $15/hour cannot be included in the broader $1.9 trillion COVID relief package.

Why it matters: It's now very likely that any increase in the minimum wage will need bipartisan support, as the provision cannot be passed with the simple Senate majority that Democrats are aiming to use for President Biden's rescue bill.

Dave Lawler, author of World
1 hour ago - World

Biden's big Saudi reset

Mohammed bin Salman. Photo: Ryad Kramdi/AFP via Getty

President Biden spoke with Saudi Arabia's King Salman this evening ahead of the release of a CIA report expected to implicate the king's son, and the kingdom's de facto ruler, in the murder of a U.S.-based journalist, Jamal Khashoggi.

Why it matters: In one month, Biden has ended support for the Saudi war effort in Yemen, frozen a large arms deal and snubbed Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) by declining to speak with him directly.