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Department of Defense to expand its Hack the Pentagon Program

In an effort to find more security flaws in its defense systems, the US Department of Defense (DoD) has decided to expand its Hack the Pentagon (opens in new tab) program to include more of its systems and networks.

The program pays hackers to find and report the vulnerabilities in exchange for payment from the US government. So far the program has proven to be quite effective with the the first bug in the DoD's systems and networks being discovered a mere 13 minutes after its launch.

Hack the Pentagon begin as a pilot program that was only scheduled to run from 18 April to 12 May across five different DoD websites. Now the department has decided to extend the program indefinitely, allowing it to continuously discover and patch vulnerabilities in order to build up its defences against cyber attackers. The DoD plans on adding more websites as well as systems to Hack the Pentagon.

In regard to the success of the pilot program and its future as a permanent fixture at the department, A DoD spokesperson said: “Although the pilot was a success, it only tested the crowdsourced security concept against public-facing websites. We believe the concept will be successful when applied to many or all of DoD's other security challenges.”

HackerOne, a vulnerability disclosure company known for its bug bounty platform, was in charge of administering the Hack the Pentagon pilot. It found that during the course of the pilot, hackers were able to generate 138 unique bug reports while the DoD paid out a total of $71,200 to hackers in bounties.

In order to facilitate the program's expansion, the DoD is developing a vulnerability disclosure process, expanding the bug bounty program and will begin offering incentives to its contractors that allow their systems to be tested.

Hack the Pentagon is the first time that the US government has ever considered the idea of commercial bug bounty program intended for hackers, making the US less prone to security vulnerabilities while at the same time providing hackers with a way to earn a living while aiding the law.

Image source: Frontpage / Shutterstock

After getting his start at ITProPortal and then working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches to how to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.