UPDATE 2-U.S. military invites pre-approved experts to 'Hack the Pentagon'

Wed Mar 2, 2016 9:23pm EST
 
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(Adds comment from White House official)

By Andrea Shalal

SAN FRANCISCO, March 2 (Reuters) - The Pentagon on Wednesday invited outside hackers who have been vetted to test the cyber security of some public U.S. Defense Department websites as part of a pilot project next month, the first such program ever by the federal government.

"Hack the Pentagon" is modeled after similar competitions known as "bug bounties" conducted by many large U.S. companies, including United Continental Holdings Inc, to discover security gaps in their networks.

Such programs allow cyber experts to find and identify problems before malicious hackers can exploit them, saving money and time in the event of damaging network breaches.

"I am confident that this innovative initiative will strengthen our digital defenses and ultimately enhance our national security," Defense Secretary Ash Carter said in a statement unveiling the pilot program.

He told reporters it was time for the Pentagon to learn from best practices across industry, especially since the military was "not getting good grades across the enterprise" for its level of cyber security.

"We can't just keep doing what we're doing. The world changes too fast; our competitors change too fast," he said during a public discussion at the RSA conference.

DJ Patil, the White House's chief data scientist and a former executive with eBay and LinkedIn, said bug bounties had become the fastest and most efficient way of securing networks at a time when software was becoming increasingly complex and more difficult to test.   Continued...