U.S. Air Force to Launch Competition Similar to ‘Hack the Pentagon’

This will be the first time the Air Force has opened its network to such broad scrutiny and comes in response to increased daily cyberthreats.

by Barrie Barber, Dayton Daily News / May 1, 2017
Credit: Shutterstock/BeeBright

(TNS) — The Air Force is looking for a few good hackers.

A cyber competition will launch soon to urge computer hackers to find vulnerabilities in Air Force public websites, much as a Department of Defense contest dubbed “Hack the Pentagon” did last year.

“We’d like to find out which vulnerabilities are out there that we have not yet found using our own processes,” said Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek.

The competition is open to “vetted computer security specialists” across the United States and “white hat” hackers from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, according to the Air Force.

“This is the first time the (Air Force) has opened up our networks to such a broad scrutiny,” Peter Kim, Air Force chief information officer, said in a statement. “We have malicious hackers trying to get into our systems every day. It will be nice to have friendly hackers taking a shot at, and most importantly, showing us how to improve our cybersecurity and defense posture.”

On any given day, the Defense Information Systems Agency contends day with 800 million cyber incidents “that threaten the network,” Lt. Col. James Brindle, a Pentagon spokesman, has told this newspaper. In an inner layer of cyber defense, the Air Force blocked 1.3 billion “malicious” cyber intrusions last year alone, according to Lt. Col. Mark Reith, Center for Cyberspace Research director at the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

AFIT trains hundreds of cyber warriors every year for the military.

How much money the Air Force competition will award to hackers hasn’t been announced, but the Department of Defense cyber hack contest awarded between $100 to up to $15,000, officials said.

“It’s based on the severity of the vulnerability they find,” said Maj. Scott McLaughlin, an Air Force cyber operations officer.

“Hack the Pentagon” drew 1,400 hackers and awarded $75,000, figures show.

HackerOne, a security consulting firm, will run the Air Force contest.

Participants may register starting May 15 at the HackerOne website. The competition will run May 30 to June 23. The Air Force says military personnel and government civilian workers may not receive compensation, but may participate in the competition with supervisory approval.

©2017 the Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio), Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.