The Defense Department announced on Tuesday the start of its "Hack the Pentagon" initiative, in which hackers will be given the chance to penetrate the compound’s cyber defenses, according to an announcement.
"The ‘Hack the Pentagon’ initiative is the first cyber bug bounty program in the history of the federal government," according to Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook.
The Pentagon is asking qualified hackers to "conduct vulnerability identification and analysis on the department’s public webpages" via massive hacking exercise. The effort mimics similar projects used by the private sector to test its network security.
"The pilot marks the first in a series of programs designed to test and find vulnerabilities in the department’s applications, websites, and networks," according to Cook.
Only pre-screened hackers will be permitted to participate. They will have to submit to background checks and other measures.
"Once vetted, these hackers will participate in a controlled, limited duration program that will allow them to identify vulnerabilities on a predetermined department system," the Pentagon said. "Other networks, including the department’s critical, mission-facing systems will not be part of the bug bounty pilot program."
Successful hackers will win a cash prize.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter said he is looking forward to the hack attacks.
"I am always challenging our people to think outside the five-sided box that is the Pentagon," Carter said in a statement. "Inviting responsible hackers to test our cybersecurity certainly meets that test. I am confident this innovative initiative will strengthen our digital defenses and ultimately enhance our national security."