The United States is paying hackers hundreds of thousands of dollars to help them exploit hidden flaws in computer codes to contaminate the systems of foreign adversaries, the New York Times reports.
Hackers used to sell their services to software companies in order the fix the flaws, but now governments are outbidding private enterprises like Microsoft, which recently paid as much as $150,000 to fix a flawed code.
"Governments are starting to say, 'In order to best protect my country, I need to find vulnerabilities in other countries,'" said Howard Schmidt, a former White House cyber security coordinator.
"The problem is that we all fundamentally become less secure," Schmidt said.
Customers of the hackers' services include the Revolutionary Guards of Iran and the United States' National Security Agency, which has used a hacker service to detect flaws in America's arsenal of cyber-weapons.
There are no government regulations in the U.S. controlling what can be bought and for how much, and if the U.S. government continues to be a top purchaser, that is unlikely to change.
Other countries purchasing the information include Israel, Britain, Russia, India, Brazil, North Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, and Middle Eastern intelligence services.
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