The United States is facing a dire situation, according to former presidential counterrorism adviser Richard Clarke. In a Wired report, the publication quotes Clarke telling attendees at a “cyber colloquium” Monday that U.S. networks are “porous as a colander” and not equipped to deal with the challenges it faces on the cyberscurity front.

The solution? The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is reaching out to hackers for help. DARPA spokesman Eric Mazzacone told Wired that the agency is looking to recruit “visionary hackers” to the agency to help it explore “more and better options” to protect the country against threats.

DARPA has already turned to respected hacker Peiter Zatko, aka “Mudge,” as a program manager for its Strategic Technologies Office, but is clearly looking to get more insider expertise on the world of cybersecurity. In a blog post, Sophos’s Lisa Vaas said that it’s about time that the government moved to hire more security talent. “At risk are both trade and technology secrets as well as crucial infrastructure,” she wrote in her own plea to white hats. “SOS. We need you.”

Hackers are often the first to call attention to security or other flaws in closed systems, and can be smart and high-profile hires. For example, Facebook hired iPhone and PlayStation cracker George Hotz in June, and ICANN has had Jeff Moss, aka “The Dark Tangent” on the payroll since April 2011.

Related stories:

Blog Post: DARPA ‘Shredder Challenge’ promises $50,000 to anyone who can piece together shredded docs

Ideas@Innovations: Innovator of the Week, DARPA vs. USCIS

Facebook hires PlayStation hacker George Hotz, aka GeoHot