In a creative and unprecedented move for a federal agency, the Department of Defense announced this week that it is offering a “bug bounty” to vetted hackers who are able to identify vulnerabilities in its web pages and computer networks. The program is scheduled to start next month and white hat hackers participating in the program will have to pass a rigorous background check. According to Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, “I am always challenging our people to think outside the five-sided box that is the Pentagon. Inviting responsible hackers to test our cybersecurity certainly meets that test.”
As unusual as this might appear for the federal government to be taking such a step, private companies, such as Google and Facebook have long made cash payments to independent hackers who identified vulnerabilities in their computer code
This is a positive strategy for the government to follow as it increases its cybersecurity efforts. As for us as individuals, the best things we can do to protect our cybersecurity are to keep our anti-virus and anti-malware software up to date on all of our electronic devices and refrain from clicking on links or downloading attachments in all forms of electronic communication until we have absolutely confirmed that the communications are legitimate. Otherwise, the risk of downloading malware is too great.