Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Threat Intelligence

3/2/2016
07:30 PM
Connect Directly
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 the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. 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
 

Recommended Reading:

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.
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 10/23/2020
7 Tips for Choosing Security Metrics That Matter
Ericka Chickowski, Contributing Writer,  10/19/2020
Russian Military Officers Unmasked, Indicted for High-Profile Cyberattack Campaigns
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  10/19/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Special Report: Computing's New Normal
This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
Flash Poll
How IT Security Organizations are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
How IT Security Organizations are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
The COVID-19 pandemic turned the world -- and enterprise computing -- on end. Here's a look at how cybersecurity teams are retrenching their defense strategies, rebuilding their teams, and selecting new technologies to stop the oncoming rise of online attacks.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-24847
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-23
A Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF) vulnerability is identified in FruityWifi through 2.4. Due to a lack of CSRF protection in page_config_adv.php, an unauthenticated attacker can lure the victim to visit his website by social engineering or another attack vector. Due to this issue, an unauthenticat...
CVE-2020-24848
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-23
FruityWifi through 2.4 has an unsafe Sudo configuration [(ALL : ALL) NOPASSWD: ALL]. This allows an attacker to perform a system-level (root) local privilege escalation, allowing an attacker to gain complete persistent access to the local system.
CVE-2020-5990
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-23
NVIDIA GeForce Experience, all versions prior to 3.20.5.70, contains a vulnerability in the ShadowPlay component which may lead to local privilege escalation, code execution, denial of service or information disclosure.
CVE-2020-25483
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-23
An arbitrary command execution vulnerability exists in the fopen() function of file writes of UCMS v1.4.8, where an attacker can gain access to the server.
CVE-2020-5977
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-23
NVIDIA GeForce Experience, all versions prior to 3.20.5.70, contains a vulnerability in NVIDIA Web Helper NodeJS Web Server in which an uncontrolled search path is used to load a node module, which may lead to code execution, denial of service, escalation of privileges, and information disclosure.