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Snowden trained as hacker while with NSA -- report

Snowden was taught all he needed to know about snooping into records while he was working for the NSA, according to The New York Times.

The Guardian/Screenshot by CNET
More details about the mysterious past of Edward Snowden, the former contractor for the National Security Agency who leaked details about the agency's surveillance program, are starting to emerge.

Snowden, who is reportedly currently holed up in an airport in Moscow, was taught all he needed to know about hacking while he was working for the NSA, according to The New York Times. And those are the very skills that he would have needed in order to snoop into the records that he accessed.

His resume, which hasn't been made public but was described to the Times by people who have seen it, touted his training in a course for "certified ethical hackers." A certified ethical hacker is a professional certification handed out by the International Council of E-Commerce Consultants (EC-Council) for those who are trained to detect vulnerabilities in organizations' systems using the same knowledge and tools as a hacker.

These details reveal just the sort of skills that the NSA is desperate for when it comes to new recruits -- but they're also the very skills that put it at risk.

"If he's looking inside U.S. government networks for foreign intrusions, he might have very broad access," James A. Lewis, a computer security expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told the Times. "The hacker got into the storeroom."

Snowden has said he took a job as an infrastructure analyst with Booz Allen Hamilton in order to gather evidence on the NSA's surveillance program. He prepared his resume touting his hacking skills shortly before applying for that job, while he was working for the NSA with Dell, according to the Times.