During his time as an NSA contractor, Edward Snowden was certified as an "ethical hacker," or an expert in hacking techniques and thinking who uses his skills on behalf of an employer, his resume reportedly says. The course that led to his certification—not to mention "six months of classified technical training"—may have helped him snoop through classified information, eventually resulting in his big leaks, the New York Times reports. And his combination of expertise and agenda show how tough it is for the NSA to confidently recruit the tech whizzes it needs, the paper notes.
Moreover, it raises alarm bells about safety procedures at the NSA, experts say. "If Visa can call me and say, 'Are you in Dakar, Senegal?' when they see a purchase that doesn’t fit my history, then we ought to be able to detect something like this," says ex-NSA director Michael Hayden. But a software developer argues that Snowden would have known how to keep a low profile while poking around. As early as 2009, he appears to have voiced concern about surveillance: "We love that technology," he noted in a chat, per Ars Technica. "Helps us spy on our citizens better." (Read more Edward Snowden stories.)