Defense Department inviting experts to 'Hack the Pentagon'

The department also announced the start of the Defense Innovation Advisory Board.
By Andrew V. Pestano  |  March 2, 2016 at 1:05 PM
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WASHINGTON, March 2 (UPI) -- The Pentagon on Wednesday said it will invite vetted external experts to test the cybersecurity integrity of some Department of Defense websites by permitting them to hack.

The "Hack the Pentagon" initiative will begin in April and is being led by the department's Defense Digital Service, launched by Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter in November.

The Pentagon will use public crowdsourcing to "allow qualified participants to conduct vulnerability identification and analysis on the department's public webpages."

"I am always challenging our people to think outside the five-sided box that is the Pentagon," Carter said in a statement. "Inviting responsible hackers to test our cybersecurity certainly meets that test. I am confident this innovative initiative will strengthen our digital defenses and ultimately enhance our national security."

The initiative will be the first cyberbug bounty program in U.S. federal government history and it is the first in a series of programs designed to "test and find vulnerabilities in Defense Department applications, websites and networks."

"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," DDS Director Chris Lynch said in a statement.

The Defense Department also on Wednesday announced the establishment of the Defense Innovation Advisory Board, which is an effort to improve on the department's "culture, organization and processes by tapping innovators from the private sector, in Silicon Valley and beyond."

The board will be modeled after the Defense Business Board in that it will provide advice to the Pentagon on how to use the "best and latest practices in innovation that the department can emulate."

The Pentagon will not discuss with the board any matters related to military operations or strategy. The board will be made of up to 12 people selected by Carter and the board's chairman, Eric Schmidt, who is executive chairman of Alphabet, Google's parent company.

"The Defense Innovation Advisory Board will seek to advise the department on areas that are deeply familiar to Silicon Valley companies, such as rapid prototyping, iterative product development, complex data analysis in business decision making, the use of mobile and cloud applications, and organizational information sharing," the Pentagon said in a statement.

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