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Vulnerabilities / Threats

8/13/2018
04:30 PM
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'Hack the Marine Corps' Bug Bounty Event Held in Vegas

$80K in payouts went to handpicked hackers in nine-hour event during DEF CON in Las Vegas.

The US Marine Corps yesterday in Las Vegas held a live hacking event focused on its public-facing websites and enterprise services, and it paid out $80,000 in total to researchers for 75 new vulnerabilities that they found.

Hack the Marines, part of the US Department of Defense's Hack the Pentagon program, operated as a hackathon of sorts, with a limited-time bounty payout; researchers also can report any flaws they find through the HackerOne-managed Marine Corps vulnerability disclosure program until August 26, 2018, but without earning a bounty.

This represents the sixth bug bounty sponsored by the DoD and managed by HackerOne, following the flagship Hack the Pentagon program in 2016, and bug bounties for the Army, Air Force, and the DoD's travel system.

Around 100 researchers selected by HackerOne and the Marines competed in the bug bounty event, which ran for nine hours on Sunday, August 12. HackerOne and the Marines would not divulge details on the newly found vulnerabilities, but the bugs included the usual website flaw suspects, including authentication flaws and cross-site scripting, according to Martin Mickos, CEO of HackerOne.

The Marine Corps Cyberspace Command's red and blue teams were on hand as well to observe and interact with the hacker competitors as well as to decide on the winning bounties. "They key goal of these live hacking events is to have this collegial and social [atmosphere], although it's also a competition," Mickos says. "They may give advice ... 'don't go there, look here'" to the competitors, while the hackers also can give the military feedback as well, he says.

"Hack the Marine Corps allows us to leverage the talents of the global ethical hacker community to take an honest, hard look at our current cybersecurity posture," said Maj. Gen. Matthew Glavy, Commander, US Marine Corps Forces Cyberspace Command in a statement. "What we learn from this program will assist the Marine Corps in improving our warfighting platform, the Marine Corps Enterprise Network. Working with the ethical hacker community provides us with a large return on investment to identify and mitigate current critical vulnerabilities, reduce attack surfaces, and minimize future vulnerabilities. It will make us more combat ready."

In all, the Hack the Pentagon program itself has resulted in over 5,000 discovered vulnerabilities by researchers.

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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

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