Pentagon Opens Its Doors to Hackers

Looking to improve their cybersecurity, the Pentagon recently invited selected white hat hackers to dig into their networks for the purpose of finding holes or bugs, according to Reuters. Titled “Hack the Pentagon”, and led by the recently set up Digital Defense Service, the event tapped experts from private industries for short stints.

Structured similarly to the “bug bounties” competitions hosted by many private companies, the Pentagon hopes to be able to use these hackers to identify and fix problems before those with less benign goals are able to find them. Defense Secretary Ash Carter told Reuters, "I am confident that this innovative initiative will strengthen our digital defenses and ultimately enhance our national security,"

DJ Patil, chief data scientist for the White House, noted the benefits of offering bug bounties to ensure secure networks, with the recognition of the increasing complexity of relevant software: "When people hear 'bug bounty,' they think we are just opening ourselves to attack, but what people forget is, we are always in this day and age under attack. By bringing crowds to the problem ... you're getting a jump on the curve."

However, the event wasn’t open to everyone. Instead, all participants had to be US citizens, and to first submit to a background check. In addition, systems available for test by hackers were determined in advance, and limited to less sensitive networks.