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Digital Bounty Hunters

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Move over, mullet men and cowboys – there’re new bounty hunters in town, and they’re more likely to play Dungeons & Dragons than Cops & Robbers, thanks to the US Department of Defense’s (DoD) “Hack the Pentagon” bounty program.

The program, that was announced in March and open between April 18 and May 12, has been beyond successful, garnering the participation of almost 1,500 “white hatters” (ethical hackers) who were able to uncover over 100 vulnerabilities in DoD networks and public websites. Each participant was required to pass a background check, and were rewarded with up to $15,000 for those who discovered vulnerabilities that were the most potentially damaging.

White hatters were not allowed to hack all of the DoD, however; certain sensitive Pentagon systems were off limits. Still, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter believes that program has significantly fortified “our digital defenses and… our national security.”

"They are helping us to be more secure at a fraction of the cost, and in a way that enlists the brilliance of the white hatters, rather than waits to learn the lessons of the black hatters."