The U.S. Department of Defense wants to get hacked. For real and not for real, so they explain. It's part of the department's progressive efforts to help improve its defense against hackers in the real world. To do so, they will be challenging top cyber security firms to break in.
The program can be compared to others, like the one that's run by Google each year, which rewards hackers that can penetrate their networks by finding weaknesses in code and by using these chinks in the armor to infiltrate the networks.
But this one is different because it's for the U.S. government, and it will earmark the first time that such a program has been in place for the federal government. According to the DOD, the initiative will start in April and will request that participating firms try to get in from using web pages and by searching out ways to penetrate the DOD network such as email, malware and so forth.
This is where the program will stop, however. The DOD will not be asking security firms to hack its classified networks. And any participants won't be allowed to simply just hack in to the website or databases.
According to the Pentagon, they will be recruiting participants via popular crowdsourcing services. Those who pass a mandatory background check will gain basic system access, and could be eligible to receive "monetary awards and other recognition."
Secretary of Defense Ash Carter has been vocal about his desire to better secure the DOD networks.
"I am always challenging our people to think outside the five-sided box that is the Pentagon," Carter explained in a written statement. "Inviting responsible hackers to test our cybersecurity certainly meets that test."
So how do you go about applying for this job of hacking the government? The Pentagon has said that they will be releasing more information in the weeks ahead so that interested participants can apply.
Being able to say that you were that good as a hacker but never had to serve jail time? Well in the future, there may just be a few people who have licks that good that they are paid to hack into our federal databases.
If this could help lockdown our networks and prepare us better for potential future attacks, it's not a bad idea.