The FBI has admitted that it is considering relaxing its strict rules against drug taking, in a bid to try to encourage more hackers to work for them in the ongoing war against cybercrime.
On Monday, FBI director James B Comey told an audience at the White Collar Crime Institute annual conference in New York City that the FBI wants to build up its cybercrime unit by filling 2,000 new jobs this year, but has had problems when seeking to hire promising young hackers.
"I have to hire a great work force to compete with those cyber criminals and some of those kids want to smoke weed on the way to the interview," Comey said, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Comey's words came on the same day five Chinese military officials were indicted by the US government on charges of computer hacking, economic espionage and other offences directed at six American companies.
2,000 more jobs to fill
According to Comey, the FBI has 1,300 agents currently working 10,700 white collar crime cases in the US, with corporate fraud cases increasing by 65% since 2008.
The FBI director said that the agency was "grappling with the question right now"of how to amend its strict no-marijuana rules, which prevent anyone who has smoked weed in the last three years from being hired for a job.
A member of the audience told Comey that his friend had wanted to apply for a job with the FBI but had been put off by the no-marijuana policy, to which the FBI director replied, "He should go ahead and apply".
"We have changed both our mind-set and the way we do business," Comey told the audience, adding that the FBI now works in a less "in-box" way than it has in the past.
In the UK, the National Cyber Crime Unit (NCCU) has similar ban on applicants who are involved in the "misuse of drugs", although it does not specifically point the finger at marijuana.
Key critical skills
"Our officers will have high levels of personal and professional integrity and be accountable for their actions. This includes not engaging in behaviour of a criminal nature, dishonesty, misuse of drugs, violence, or any action or personal circumstance that undermines you or the NCA status or reputation," the NCCU's webpage on security vetting warns.
In order to join the FBI's cybercrime unit, applicants with "critical skills" such as computer science and information technology expertise are prioritised to become special agents.
Applicants must have previously managed a corporate network, installed and maintained server operating systems, and established and maintained an Internet Service Provider.
Successful candidates should also have maintained and monitored performance on a TCP/IP or other protocol network, or maintained servers or Internet Information Services.