Pentagon officials recently announced a “Hack the Pentagon” competition aimed at vetted experts to help the U.S. Defense Department identify vulnerabilities in its websites and boost their security in the process.
While such “bug bounty” programs are common for large companies, it’s rare that the Department of Defense asks private sector security experts – white hackers – to come forward in a competition-like event aimed at hacking DOD websites.
“I am confident that this innovative initiative will strengthen our digital defenses and ultimately enhance our national security,” Defense Secretary Ash Carter said in a statement unveiling the pilot program.
It is not yet clear whether the competition will include financial compensations, but the DOD did specify that contestants will have to abide by some strict rules. Registrants will have to submit to a rigorous background check and also be U.S. citizens before being allowed to hack into the Pentagon’s systems.
“Bringing in the best talent, technology and processes from the private sector … helps us deliver comprehensive, more secure solutions to the DOD,” said Chris Lynch, a former Microsoft executive and technology entrepreneur who heads the Pentagon’s Defense Digital Service (DDS).
While it’s not the first time security experts from the private sector have joined the DOD’s cybersecurity initiative, this “Hack the Pentagon” initiative could lead to possible rerouting for the winning expert(s).