The Pentagon has invited hackers to test its cyber security defenses in a new program its calling “Hack the Pentagon.” The program is not inviting hackers at large, and is instead submitting applicants to a rigorous vetting process including a background check and that all participants must be U.S. citizens. These applicants will be asked to look for flaws within the Pentagon’s security system in its apps, websites, networks and servers. Successful attackers will be given a monetary award, though the amount offered remains unspecified.
Pentagon officials acknowledge that the approach is unorthodox, but argue that bringing in outsiders could be the most efficient way to discover flaws within the Pentagon’s system. Chris Lynch, director of the Defense Digital Service (DDS) believes that “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.”
The program is also being seen as an attempt to repair relations between the Department of Defense and the cyber industry, according to Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, who hopes that opening up a creative program such as “Hack the Pentagon” will encourage talented hackers and teach-savvy Millennials to join the government’s cyber employees.