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Pentagon Announces Vulnerability Disclosure Policy

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) announced on Monday that it has created a vulnerability disclosure policy that aims to provide guidance to researchers on how to disclose security holes found in the organization’s public-facing websites.

The new vulnerability disclosure policy does not include any rewards. Instead, it provides a legal avenue for reporting flaws and the Pentagon hopes it will encourage the cybersecurity community to help it improve its defenses.

Hackers who find vulnerabilities in any public website owned, operated or controlled by the DoD, particularly defense.gov and .mil domains, can submit a report via HackerOne. The organization has promised to acknowledge reports within three business days and publicly recognize those who submit valid issues.

“The Vulnerability Disclosure Policy is a ‘see something, say something’ policy for the digital domain,” said Secretary of Defense Ash Carter. “We want to encourage computer security researchers to help us improve our defenses. This policy gives them a legal pathway to bolster the department’s cybersecurity and ultimately the nation’s security.”

Registration open for Hack the Army

Following the success of the “Hack the Pentagon” initiative, the DoD decided to award a combined $7 million contract to HackerOne and Synack to help its components launch similar bug bounty programs. The first initiative has been launched by the U.S. Army via the HackerOne platform.

The Hack the Army program was announced earlier this month and the registration period started on Monday. The roughly 500 white hat hackers expected to take part in the challenge can earn thousands of dollars in bounties, the DoD said.

Registration is open until November 28 and the program will run between November 30 and December 21. The DoD pointed out that members of the public need to meet certain conditions to participate, including eligibility to work within the U.S. and not residing in a country under trade sanctions.

Over 1,400 hackers signed up for the Hack the Pentagon program that took place this spring. More than 250 of them submitted at least one vulnerability report and 138 submissions were eligible for a bounty. The cost of the pilot was $150,000, half of which represented the bounty rewards.

Related: Identity Management Firm Okta Launches Bug Bounty Program

Related: Facebook Paid Out $5 Million in Bug Bounties Since 2011

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.