Mar 03, 2016 10:01 AM EST

Pentagon Hack Update: Agency Invites U.S. Law Abiding Hackers

Law-abiding hackers are wanted at the Pentagon. The agency has recently issued invitations to computer and software hackers living in the United States in its bid to toughen its defenses against cyber criminals.

This is a pilot project the agency is initiating and the first that the federal government is offering to hackers.

"I am confident this innovative initiative will strengthen our digital defenses and ultimately enhance our national security," said Ash Carter, the Defense Secretary in a statement as he launched the pilot program.

The project called "Hack the Pentagon" is scheduled to start on April. Hackers would be rewarded with big cash should they spot weaknesses on the department's public website.

However, more sensitive networks or key weapons programs of the agency are not included in the hacking project.

Carter launched the project on his visit to Silicon Valley. The Pentagon has previously established an outreach office in the place in its bid to enhance the defense department's relationship with the tech community aside from sourcing ideas that may have applications to the military.

According to Pentagon officials, the agency is also establishing a second office in Boston which is slated to open this year.

These initiatives are being undertaken by defense officials to improve the department's relationships with the tech community in their effort to establish an advantage against potential challenges coming from Russia and China.

But in the wake of whistleblowing scandals such as the Snowden case, there is still a lingering distrust over individual and commercial privacy which is viewed with contempt by agile tech firms.

Hackers will be vetted first by the defense department before they are accepted into the program.

"Once vetted, these hackers will participate in a controlled, limited duration program that will allow them to identify vulnerabilities on a predetermined department system," the Pentagon said.

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