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Bush adviser promotes 'responsible hacking'
He says their help is needed because most bugs are not found by software makers themselves.
But Mr Clarke insisted hackers must report their findings through the proper channels and condemned those who act maliciously.
He said the US government is considering changing the law to protect those who hack for the right reasons.
Mr Clarke emphasised hackers should always immediately contact the software-maker on finding a vulnerability.
They should then go to the government if that approach does not receive a positive response.
He said he recognised that companies differ in their attitude to hackers. While some encourage or even reward bug-hunters, others can respond by filing for civil or criminal charges.
Mr Clarke said that situation is "very disappointing" as long as the hacker acts in good faith.
He concluded: "If there are legal protections they don't have that they need, we need to look at that."
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