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U.S. Government Announces 'Hack the Army 3.0' Bug Bounty Program

The U.S. government on Wednesday announced the launch of another bug bounty program conducted in collaboration with hacker-powered cybersecurity platform HackerOne.

Hack the Army 3.0, whose goal is to help the U.S. Army secure its digital assets and protect its systems against cyberattacks, takes place between January 6 and February 17, and it’s open to both millitary and civilian white hat hackers. However, only civilians are eligible for financial rewards if they find vulnerabilities.

The program, conducted by the Defense Digital Service (DDS), is invitation-only, so not everyone can participate, but the Department of Defense does have an ongoing vulnerability disclosure program through which anyone can report security holes at any time in exchange for “thanks.”

“Bug bounty programs are a unique and effective 'force multiplier' for safeguarding critical Army networks, systems and data, and build on the efforts of our Army and DoD security professionals,” said Brig. Gen. Adam C. Volant, who is the director of operations at the U.S. Army Cyber Command. “By 'crowdsourcing' solutions with the help of the world's best military and civilian ethical hackers, we complement our existing security measures and provide an additional means to identify and fix vulnerabilities. Hack the Army 3.0 builds upon the successes and lessons of our prior bug bounty programs.”

The DDS has conducted 14 public bug bounties covering public-facing websites and apps, and 10 private programs covering internal assets. In the previous Hack the Army program, which ran in October and November 2019, the government paid out $275,000 in rewards for 146 valid vulnerabilities.

The Pentagon also paid out $290,000 last year for more than 400 vulnerabilities as part of its Hack the Air Force 4.0 program.

The Defense Department’s first bug bounty program was announced in 2016 and the initiatives launched since have resulted in the patching of thousands of vulnerabilities and millions of dollars being paid out.

Related: Expert Hacks Internal DoD Network via Army Website

Related: DARPA Bug Bounty Program Seeks to Harden SSITH Hardware Protections

Related: U.S. General Service Administration Launches Bug Bounty Program

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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.