Posted on January 17, 2020 at 3:36 PM
Reports revealed that between Oct 9 and Nov 2019, about 52 hackers infiltrated servers in the U.S. Army. Knowing what a single hacker could do, it may seem the damage was a devastating one. But the hackers aren’t exactly trying to steal from the U.S. servers or do something really bad. Their activities will even strengthen the U.S. servers, according to the event organizers.
This is because, according to a spokesperson at the DOD digital service, they were white-hat hackers were taking part in a hacking activity organized by the U.S. Army. The hacking activity termed “Hack the Army” is the second of its kind since the first event was introduced in 2016.
U.S. Army trying to strengthen system security
Threat actors do not require an open invitation to infiltrate systems and cause mayhem in the cyber world. Some may even think given hackers an open invitation to gain access to your online database is a wrong idea.
But this practice is not only limited to the U.S. Army. Several other government organizations and top global companies have done something similar in the past. Just last week, Tesla invited hackers and offered a massive reward to anyone who could crack its new model Tesla car.
Others have also followed in that footstep. The idea is to get as many people as possible to test their system to find out whether there is any area of vulnerability the real hackers could exploit.
Recently, the City of New Orleans and the New York Airport were victims of a ransomware attack. Subsequently, the U.S. government advised organizations to upgrade a certain VPN if they don’t want to face sustained cyber-attacks.
However, the idea behind “Hack the Army” is to invite, apparently, some of the most talented hackers in the world to try and penetrate the fortified U.S. Army system. The difference between these hackers and the others is the fact that the other dark art hackers will never leave the system intact after discovering the vulnerability.
They would probe, get into the system, and cart away with any relevant information, then demand for ransom for its return.
These white art hackers are doing it based on invitation by the organizers.“Hack the Army” is an event organized by a joint venture between HackerOne bounty program, Defense Digital Service, as well as the U.S. Department of Defense.
U.S. Army fortifies platform in the face of Iran Hacking Threat
The HackerOne platform has some of the world’s best hackers under its platform. Most of them have already become millionaires from their white art hacking activities. The main idea behind “Hack the Army” is to discover any vulnerability that could give the other dark art hackers easy access to the Army systems.
The Army wants to fortify its system and make sure there are no flaws that will keep its system susceptible to attacks from other hackers. And from the recent hacking threat by the Iranian hackers, it may not be a coincidence that the U.S. Army has chosen this period to test run its systems.
Participants rewarded for their efforts
During the five-week hacking exercise, there were about 60 publicly accessible U.S. army systems hackers could try to exploit. These portals include the Arlington Cemetery website, goarmy.com, and army. mil domains.
The 52 hackers come from countries including Romania, Germany, Canada, and the U.S. For their efforts during the hacking events, the hackers went home with $275,000. The highest single winner went home with $20,000
Digital service specialist at the DOD Defense Digital Service, Alex Romero, said the DOD encourages such participation from ethical hackers. He said the event would help to boost the security assurance of the Defense systems. It would take the security above basic compliance and make the system more difficult to attack by other external forces.
A web application expert, Alyssa Herrera, was the hacker responsible for discovering most of the vulnerabilities within the Army systems during the test. She stated that it’s so refreshing to know that the vulnerabilities she discovered would help to strengthen the Army Defenses further. According to her, when the Army system is strengthened, it would help o protect millions of people.
When the first “Hack the Army was held in 2016, hackers were able to discover 118 vulnerabilities. The army patched up those flaws and fortified their systems a little further.