Under normal circumstances, hacking into federal government networks would almost certainly earn you a criminal record, but for the first time ever, the United States military has decided to give hackers a pass—for a very good reason. The Pentagon has invited all the console cowboys in cyberspace to attempt to break into their system as a way to test and strengthen its cybersecurity.
The Department of Defense’s “Hack the Pentagon” program is inspired by what some big companies call a “bug bounty,” which often comes with a big cash reward. The program is open to U.S. citizens who are willing to register and undergo a background check first. Once accepted, participants will still have to abide by guidelines set forth by the Pentagon and will not be allowed to snoop around in what the DoD refers to as “critical, mission-facing systems.” The statement from the DoD announcing the strategy says that participants “could be eligible for monetary awards and other recognition,” but it does not elaborate further.
“I am confident this innovative initiative will strengthen our digital defenses and ultimately enhance our national security,” Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said in the statement. Chris Lynch, the director for the DoD’s Defense Digital Service added that bringing in outside hackers will help the department and could also potentially help to protect the country. "Hack the Pentagon" will launch in April, with more information for interested hackers coming soon.