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Hacker Boot Camp Helps Good Guys Out-Smart Internet Troublemakers

IT security professional Rudy Chavez wasn't looking for a major career change, but he felt compelled to do something more to help fight Internet bad guys--hackers, virus writers, and other Web hoodlums intent on wreaking havoc.

So Chavez, a trained Unix systems administrator and IT security assurance expert, decided to take classes that would help him outsmart hackers and other cybercriminals at their own game. In January, Chavez signed up for "ethical-hacker boot camp" offered by Intense School, a provider of classroom and online IT and security training.

During the five days of classroom instruction, computer-lab time, and tests, Chavez learned how legitimate tools, technologies, and techniques are increasingly being used for illegitimate and hostile purposes. "These courses took my training to another level--traditionally, the IT security field takes a defensive approach, but this training gave me a new offensive posture," he says.

"The sophistication, ease of use, and pervasiveness of tools out there allows for great havoc," he says. Increasing threats and risks require IT security pros to stay steps ahead and "look through the lens of someone with malicious intent and plans for aggressive attacks," says Chavez, who has been working for two years on a federal systems contract as a consultant employed by IT services firm Booz Allen Hamilton.

The boot-camp training allowed Chavez to earn certification as an "ethical hacker," raising his level of security expertise for the government contract work. Still, Chavez says he plans to continue taking additional classes to keep up with individuals who look for "vulnerabilities to exploit" on the Web. Chavez says his boot-camp classes, paid for by Booz Allen, cost about $2,500.

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