High school kid is one of two winners of “Hack the Pentagon” challenge

Defense Secretary Ash Carter announcing the results of the "Hack the Pentagon" cybersecurity initiative. (DoD News)

Two individuals have been crowned the winners of the “Hack the Pentagon” challenge- and one of them is barely old enough to shave.

High school student David Dworken was announced as one of the two winners of the challenge by Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, who made light hearted jokes about the young man’s formal attire in comparison to his co-winner, computer specialist Craig Arendt.

“Look at that!” Carter said to the audience as he presented the young hacker a challenge coin. “Did you have a suit like that in high school?”

Hack the Pentagon Challenge infographic

Carter said that the “Hack the Pentagon” pilot program cost only $150,000 in “bug bounties” for finding weaknesses in the DoD systems, whereas hiring contractors would have cost upwards of a million dollars.

In addition, he expressed his gratitude to all the “white hat” hackers who worked to expose weaknesses before “black hat” hackers could exploit them.

According to the Pentagon, over 1,410 registered eligible participants found 1,189 weaknesses, with the first vulnerability report being logged in the first 13 minutes of the program.

Taking a play out of the book of Silicon Valley giants like Facebook, Microsoft and Google, the Carter deemed the “Hack the Pentagon” challenge a success. In addition, he has announced a directive to all DoD agencies to explore areas where “white hat” hackers can continue to find vulnerabilities.

“Bringing in the best talent, technology and processes from the private sector not only helps us deliver comprehensive, more secure solutions to the DoD, but it also helps us better protect our country,” said DDS Director and technology entrepreneur Chris Lynch.

The “Hack the Pentagon” initiative was led by the department’s Defense Digital Service (DDS), which was launched by Secretary Carter last November.

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  • Andy Wolf

    Andy Wolf is an Appalachian native who spent much of his youth and young adulthood overseas in search of combat, riches, and adventure- accruing decades of experience in military, corporate, first responder, journalistic and advisory roles. He resides in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains with his K9 companion, Kiki.

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