WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Defense is giving some computer security experts a unique opportunity — the chance to hack the Pentagon. Officials announced Wednesday that they would allow vetted and approved hackers to test cybersecurity as part of “Hack the Pentagon,” an initiative that is being touted as the “first cyber bug bounty program in the history of the federal government,” according to a statement from Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook.
The specific details behind the program have yet to be announced, but the Pentagon said that there might be monetary rewards for those who participate.
“The bug bounty program is modeled after similar competitions conducted by some of the nation’s biggest companies to improve the security and delivery of networks, products, and digital services,” Cook said. “The pilot [program] marks the first in a series of programs designed to test and find vulnerabilities in the department’s applications, websites, and networks.”
Those who participate will have to submit to a background check, and once they are approved, they will participate in “a controlled, limited duration program” to seek out vulnerabilities in the Pentagon’s systems.
“I am always challenging our people to think outside the five-sided box that is the Pentagon,” Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said in the statement. “Inviting responsible hackers to test our cybersecurity certainly meets the test. I am confident this initiative will strengthen our digital defenses and ultimately enhance our national security.”
The initiative is being organized by the department’s Defense Digital Service (DDS), a unit established in November, which includes engineers and data experts who are brought in to improve technological preparedness.
“Hack the Pentagon” will launch in April and officials say they will release more information in the coming weeks.