U.S. Military openly invites hackers to “Hack the Pentagon”

U.S. Naval Academy Midshipmen 2nd Class Treye Harrison and Blair Mason work together during the 15th annual Cyber Defense Exercise hosted by the National Security Agency. The Naval Academy team won first place in the competition in 2015. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communications Specialist 2nd Class Tyler Caswell/RELEASED)

Do you think you have what it takes to hack the Pentagon? Well, if you’re a U.S. citizen and are willing to submit to a background check, then you may be eligible to test the cyber security of some public U.S. Defense Dept. websites.

It’s not the first time vetted experts have been used to help discover cyber security gaps, but the pilot program being launched next month will be the first one ever offered by the federal government.

These competitions known as “bug bounties”– conducted by large U.S. companies– allow cyber experts to find and identify problems before “malicious hackers can exploit them,” Reuters reports. The company saves money and time also, by avoiding any destructive network breaches.

Participants in the Pentagon program will be invited to try and hack a “predetermined public-facing computer system” ….but other more sensitive networks or key weapons programs would not be included.

Defense officials say “thousands of qualified participants” were expected to join the initiative. While the details and rules are still being worked out, the Pentagon says the competition could involve monetary awards.

Experts from the U.S. technology industry have been brought  into the military for short stints since last November–when the Pentagon’s Defense Digital Service (DDS) was set up. The head of DDS, Chris Lynch, is a former Microsoft executive and technology entrepreneur. He says: “Bringing in the best talent, technology and processes from the private sector … helps us deliver comprehensive, more secure solutions to the DOD.”

“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.

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  • Michele graduated with a B.S. in Telecommunication from the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications. She has spent numerous years working in the news industry in south Florida, including many positions ranging from being a news writer at WSVN, the Fox affiliate in Miami to being an associate news producer at WPLG-TV, the ABC affiliate in Miami. Michele has also worked in Public Relations and Marketing.

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