Gov's 'Hack the Pentagon' pits hackers against DoD sites

The U.S. government has announced a new pilot project called 'Hack the Pentagon' that will pit select hackers against various Department of Defense websites. The program is an effort to test the security of public DoD websites, and will give hackers a chance to show their skills by uncovering potential security issues that could be exploited in a cyberattack. The Pentagon hasn't worked out all the details yet, but expects thousands of hackers to take part.

'Hack the Pentagon,' assuming it proves successful, could save the government money in the long run, enabling it to deal with vulnerabilities before they're targeted in a cyberattack. The pilot project follows several serious hacks the government disclosed last year, including one that involved the theft of security clearance forms containing deeply personal information about federal workers and military members.

The Pentagon has not finalized the rules and other pertinent details at this point, but does say there will be conditions regarding who is allowed to participate in the event. Not surprisingly, participants must be U.S. citizens who pass a background check. The program will also involve a public computer system that has been pre-selected by government officials, and will not involve any that contain weapons programs or other sensitive data. No critical systems will be compromised as a result of the program.

The government regularly conducts internal tests via federal workers, but calls this pilot project an 'innovative' alternative that may surface issues that have thus far gone unnoticed. Said the Pentagon's Defense Digital Service's boss Chris Lynch, "Bringing in the best talent, technology and processes from the private sector ... helps us deliver comprehensive, more secure solutions to the DOD."

The Defense Digital Service has tasked itself with drawing in some of the top tech experts from outside of the government — Lynch himself is a former Microsoft executive. Last November, the DDS had sought to bring experts from the private sector into various military positions for temporary work in a tech-related capacity.

Rewards for uncovering security vulnerabilities have not been detailed at this time. The program will kick off in April.

SOURCE: Reuters