RICHARDSON, Texas, March 8, 2016 -- A company in Dallas is planning to hack the Pentagon next month, as part of a challenge made by the government. Last week, the Department of Defense announced a new pilot program that will allow vetted hackers to test the agency's cybersecurity. Since then, the employees at Cyber Defense Labs (CDL) have been eagerly awaiting the chance to sign up.
"It's exciting. Given the challenge to attack a fortified system of any sort is a good challenge," said Mike Saylor, executive director of CDL.
The cybersecurity company works with businesses, individuals and government agencies to ensure their safety on the web. The jobs range from testing an entity's security to tracking down the people who may have attacked a system.
"No system is truly impenetrable. Given enough time and resources it can be done," said Saylor. "It's just the nature of technology and the determination of bad guys."
According to a statement from the DoD, participants will look for vulnerable areas in the Pentagon's applications, websites and networks. Saylor has put together a small team of forensic experts, encryption specialists and engineers. While they have not yet received details of the program, they hope to be given at least a week to complete their hack of the system.
"The kind of work I do requires a lot of focus. Have you ever watched anybody play video game for a long time and they're just kind of focused on it and nothing else exists? It's the same thing for me," said chief engineer Shawn Tolley.
First, the group will begin with reconnaissance work to determine what kind of security walls the government has in place. Then, they will proceed with an attack plan.
Saylor suspects part of the motive for the initiative is to show the public how open the government is to allowing outside groups assess their capabilities.
"It could also be a sly way of recruiting, looking for skilled teams or individuals," Saylor said. "But also, it could be a way of collecting behavioral data on how these types of assessments could potentially impact their systems."
The program is scheduled to begin in April. All participants will be required to pass a background check. Once that is completed, they will begin to receive more information about the challenge.
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