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  • Alex Rice, chief technology officer and co-founder of HackerOne Incorporated (l), speaks with Peter Kim, Air Force chief information security officer (c), and Chris Lynch, director, Defense Digital Service, about the upcoming Hack the Air Force event.
     Alex Rice, chief technology officer and co-founder of HackerOne Incorporated (l), speaks with Peter Kim, Air Force chief information security officer (c), and Chris Lynch, director, Defense Digital Service, about the upcoming Hack the Air Force event.

U.S. Air Force to Hackers: Take Your Best Shot

The Cyber Edge
May 3, 2017

Vetted computer security specialists from across the United States and select partner nations are invited to hack some of the U.S. Air Force’s key public websites. The initiative is part of the Cyber Secure campaign the service’s chief information officer is sponsoring to further operationalize the domain and leverage talent from inside and outside of the Defense Department. HackerOne Incorporated, a security consulting firm, is managing the contest.

The event expands on the U.S. Defense Department’s Hack the Pentagon bug bounty program. It expands the participation pool from only U.S. citizens to “white hat” hackers from the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

According to Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein, USAF, asking U.S. citizens and partner-nation citizens to attempt to hack into systems helps bolster cybersecurity. “We already aggressively conduct exercises and 'red team' our public facing and critical websites. But this next step throws open the doors and brings additional talent onto our cyber team,” he says.

Peter Kim, Air Force chief information security officer, says this is the first time the service has opened its networks to such broad scrutiny. “We have malicious hackers trying to get into our systems every day. It will be nice to have friendly hackers taking a shot and, most importantly, showing us how to improve our cybersecurity and defense posture. The additional participation from our partner nations greatly widens the variety of experience available to find additional unique vulnerabilities,” he explains.

The Defense Department’s Hack the Pentagon program began in April 2016. More than 1,400 hackers registered to participate in the program and a total of $75,000 has been awarded to participating hackers. Nearly 200 reports were received within the first six hours of the program’s launch.  

Registration for the Hack the Air Force event opens May 15 on the HackerOne website. The contest opens May 30 and ends June 23. Military members and government civilians are not eligible for monetary compensation, but they can participate while on duty with supervisor approval.

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