Threat Intelligence

3/2/2016
07:30 PM
Connect Directly
Google+
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Hack The Pentagon: DoD Launches First-Ever Federal Bug Bounty Program

Defense Secretary Ash Carter offers insight into DoD's new vulnerability-hunting program that offers monetary awards.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – RSA Conference 2016 – The US Defense Department is inviting vetted white-hat hackers to hunt for vulnerabilities in its public web pages under a pilot bug bounty program. The new “Hack the Pentagon” announced today by DoD officials took the security industry by surprise.

Bug bounty programs are gradually catching on in the commercial world, but no one expected the Pentagon—much less the feds—to launch one. The DoD program aims to tap expertise from the private sector in the first step in a planned group of programs to test for bugs in DoD websites, applications, and networks. DoD will give monetary awards to hackers who find bugs, but many of the details of the program were not yet disclosed.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter, here today, shed more light on why DoD made such a bold move. “We’re trying to adopt what is a best practice. There are lots of companies who do this,” Carter said in a town hall session with Ted Schlein, general partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. “You invite people to come and attack you and find your vulnerabilities. It’s a way of kind of crowdsourcing the expertise and having access to good people and not bad people. You’d much rather find vulnerabilities in your networks that way than in the other way, with a compromise or shutdown.”

Participants must be vetted, of course: they register and undergo a background check. “We have to make sure they are a white hat,” Carter said. He said the hackers who participate in the program won’t be hacking at any of DoD’s other systems or networks, such as its mission-facing systems.

Katie Moussouris, chief policy officer of HackerOne, called the DoD’s bug bounty program a “landmark event” for the federal government as well as for security research. “This legitimizes hacking for defensive purposes,” she says.

It’s also a powerful recruiting tool for the DoD, which like many other organizations faces a talent gap in cybersecurity, says Moussouris, whose company sells a platform for vulnerability coordination and bug bounty programs. “As a means of identifying talent, it’s very significant.”

That doesn’t mean only young hacker talent will take on the DoD’s Hack the Pentagon challenge. Moussouris expects seasoned hackers to sign up as well to be some of the first to find bugs in the DoD’s websites.

Carter told RSA attendees that the program also highlights a cultural shift for DoD in cybersecurity. “It’s okay to tell us where we screwed up or if something is wrong. That to me is one of the great messages” here, he said.

Meanwhile, Schlein asked Carter to weigh in on the FBI-Apple dispute, where Apple is refusing to help the FBI unlock encryption on an iPhone used by San Bernardino terror suspect Syed Farook. Carter declined to comment on specifics of the case, noting that it’s a “law enforcement matter,” but he did share his view on encryption backdoors: “I’m not a believer in backdoors or a single technical approach to what is a complex” issue, he said. “I don’t think we ought to let one case drive a particular conclusion or solution. We have to work together" to come up with a solution, he said.

“I’m behind strong data security and strong encryption – no question about it,” he said.

Related Content

Interop 2016 Las VegasFind out more about security threats at Interop 2016, May 2-6, at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, Las Vegas. Register today and receive an early bird discount of $200.

Kelly Jackson Higgins is Executive Editor at DarkReading.com. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
melodieparrish
50%
50%
melodieparrish,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/3/2016 | 9:33:08 PM
Cyber hacks and attacks and technology devices used as weapons......
It's about time.  Glad to hear it.  Also, with the Apple stand on not releasing a key to access a phone even with a court order.... leads me to believe we should name them as a co-conspirator since the phone was used as a terrorist weapon.  I think we would do the same thing for any "weapon" used by terrorist.
Veterans Find New Roles in Enterprise Cybersecurity
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  11/12/2018
Understanding Evil Twin AP Attacks and How to Prevent Them
Ryan Orsi, Director of Product Management for Wi-Fi at WatchGuard Technologies,  11/14/2018
7 Free (or Cheap) Ways to Increase Your Cybersecurity Knowledge
Curtis Franklin Jr., Senior Editor at Dark Reading,  11/15/2018
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Flash Poll
Online Malware and Threats: A Profile of Today's Security Posture
Online Malware and Threats: A Profile of Today's Security Posture
This report offers insight on how security professionals plan to invest in cybersecurity, and how they are prioritizing their resources. Find out what your peers have planned today!
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2018-19355
PUBLISHED: 2018-11-19
modules/orderfiles/ajax/upload.php in the Customer Files Upload addon 2018-08-01 for PrestaShop (1.5 through 1.7) allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code by uploading a php file via modules/orderfiles/upload.php with auptype equal to product (for upload destinations under modules/productfi...
CVE-2008-7320
PUBLISHED: 2018-11-18
** DISPUTED ** GNOME Seahorse through 3.30 allows physically proximate attackers to read plaintext passwords by using the quickAllow dialog at an unattended workstation, if the keyring is unlocked. NOTE: this is disputed by a software maintainer because the behavior represents a design decision.
CVE-2018-19358
PUBLISHED: 2018-11-18
GNOME Keyring through 3.28.2 allows local users to retrieve login credentials via a Secret Service API call and the D-Bus interface if the keyring is unlocked, a similar issue to CVE-2008-7320. One perspective is that this occurs because available D-Bus protection mechanisms (involving the busconfig...
CVE-2018-19351
PUBLISHED: 2018-11-18
Jupyter Notebook before 5.7.1 allows XSS via an untrusted notebook because nbconvert responses are considered to have the same origin as the notebook server. In other words, nbconvert endpoints can execute JavaScript with access to the server API. In notebook/nbconvert/handlers.py, NbconvertFileHand...
CVE-2018-19352
PUBLISHED: 2018-11-18
Jupyter Notebook before 5.7.2 allows XSS via a crafted directory name because notebook/static/tree/js/notebooklist.js handles certain URLs unsafely.