The director of the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency tweeted Friday in praise of people "working to find and responsibly disclose vulnerabilities."
The tweet by Jen Easterly came a day after Missouri's Republican governor accused a reporter of illegal hacking for a story on a flaw in a state website that exposed teachers' sensitive personal information.
According to reports, the journalist used tools that come standard on most browsers to identify the issue in the public-facing code of the site, and the reporter waited until the problem had been corrected to publish.
The accusations by Gov. Mike Parson led to suggestions that he was threatening the reporter for responsibly exposing public lapses.
Cybersecurity researchers, including those working for the world's top companies, routinely probe software for security oversights and vulnerabilities to repair them before bad actors can find them, and such actions are considered a crucial part of protecting digital infrastructure.
Several people suggested that Easterly's reminder that CISA "greatly value[s] the partnerships and efforts of researchers, hackers, academics" and others whose work "makes us all more safe & more secure" was aimed at Parson.