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

checkLoop 1checkLoop 2checkLoop 3
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 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

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.
Data Leak Week: Billions of Sensitive Files Exposed Online
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  12/10/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: Our Endpoint Protection system is a little outdated... 
Current Issue
The Year in Security: 2019
This Tech Digest provides a wrap up and overview of the year's top cybersecurity news stories. It was a year of new twists on old threats, with fears of another WannaCry-type worm and of a possible botnet army of Wi-Fi routers. But 2019 also underscored the risk of firmware and trusted security tools harboring dangerous holes that cybercriminals and nation-state hackers could readily abuse. Read more.
Flash Poll
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Frustrated with recurring intrusions and breaches, cybersecurity professionals are questioning some of the industrys conventional wisdom. Heres a look at what theyre thinking about.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-19777
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-13
stb_image.h (aka the stb image loader) 2.23, as used in libsixel and other products, has a heap-based buffer over-read in stbi__load_main.
CVE-2019-19778
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-13
An issue was discovered in libsixel 1.8.2. There is a heap-based buffer over-read in the function load_sixel at loader.c.
CVE-2019-16777
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-13
Versions of the npm CLI prior to 6.13.4 are vulnerable to an Arbitrary File Overwrite. It fails to prevent existing globally-installed binaries to be overwritten by other package installations. For example, if a package was installed globally and created a serve binary, any subsequent installs of pa...
CVE-2019-16775
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-13
Versions of the npm CLI prior to 6.13.3 are vulnerable to an Arbitrary File Write. It is possible for packages to create symlinks to files outside of thenode_modules folder through the bin field upon installation. A properly constructed entry in the package.json bin field would allow a package publi...
CVE-2019-16776
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-13
Versions of the npm CLI prior to 6.13.3 are vulnerable to an Arbitrary File Write. It fails to prevent access to folders outside of the intended node_modules folder through the bin field. A properly constructed entry in the package.json bin field would allow a package publisher to modify and/or gain...
checkLoop 4