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US defense and energy departments tap crowdsourcing programs for security, innovation

October 29, 2018

The US Department of Defense awarded contracts to three private-sector Silicon Valley firms, boosting its capacity to run bug bounties aimed at strengthening security for internal Department of Defense assets. The contracts were made via the department’s “Hack the Pentagon” crowdsourced security program, which provides bug bounties designed to identify and resolve security vulnerabilities across targeted websites and assets and pays cash to highly vetted security researchers, or “ethical hackers,” to discover and disclose bugs.

Axios reported the program’s expansion could be worth up to $34 million to the three companies: Bugcrowd, HackerOne and Synack.

In 2016, Hack the Pentagon established two contract vehicles that allow the department to run bug bounty assessments: one is aimed at public-facing websites and applications, while the other focuses on more sensitive, internal systems. The contract awards announced today will expand the program scope and capacity for bounties targeting private Department of Defense assets which include the tailored and bespoke products and systems for meeting defense mission needs. 

Separately, online staffing firm Freelancer.com reported the US Department of Energy will launch its Manufacturing Innovator Challenge on the Freelancer.com marketplace, giving individuals across the US the chance to pitch innovative designs for things like industrial 3D printing, bioenergy, buildings and vehicle technologies. There are contests for six manufacturing prize opportunities in the Department of Energy’s Challenge series on the Freelancer.com marketplace with cash prizes up to $10,000.

Freelancer.com also partners with NASA in a crowdsourcing program.

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