Eric Schmidt To Head Pentagon’s ‘Innovation Board’ – Govt. Challenge Hackers To Test Cyber Security With ‘Hack The Pentagon’ Initiative

Eric Schmidt has been chosen by the Pentagon to chair a new advisory board focused on innovation and improving digital practices for the United States military and defense technologies. As part of the initiative, hackers will be invited to test cyber security protocols.

Alphabet Chairman and former Google CEO Eric Schmidt has been appointed by the U.S. government to chair a Defense Innovation Advisory Board at the Pentagon, announced U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter. The innovation board is aimed at “bringing innovation and best practices to the U.S. military.” Officially, the new board is an “effort to enhance the Department of Defense’s culture, organization and processes by tapping innovators from the private sector.” A majority of the innovators could be from the Silicon Valley.

According to CNN, the advisory board will help the Pentagon keep up with the latest Silicon Valley ideas and apply them at the Department of Defense. The board will shoulder the challenge of modernizing the technology that Pentagon routinely uses. One of its primary responsibilities will be coming up with “quick solutions.” The advisory board will comprise of about a dozen members who have, “led large private and public organizations and excelled at identifying and adopting new technology concepts.”

While the innovation aspect is certainly interesting, the advisory board won’t have access to information about military operations strategy. Still, the board is expected to bolster Pentagon’s technology that is commonly accessible, but relies on databases and servers that need to be fortified against people with nefarious intent, hell bent on compromising the security and exposing sensitive data. In the past there have been numerous successful attempts at overriding security protocols and accessing sensitive data. In some cases, teenage kids, sitting across oceans have been able to gain unlawful digital entry into restricted regions.

It is against such attacks that Eric Schmidt and his team of “innovators” will bolster the security. In order to check the integrity of security protocols and see how they could be compromised by talented, but ill-intentioned people, the Defense Department is challenging computer geeks from the private sector to hack its public websites and networks, reported the Cleburne Times Review.

To ensure many ethical hackers respond, the military has promised unspecified cash rewards and the prospect of recognition. Speaking about “Hack the Pentagon,” a one of its kind government initiative, Carter said the following.

“I am always challenging our people to think outside the five-sided box that is the Pentagon… Inviting responsible hackers to test our cyber-security certainly meets that test.”

The “Hack the Pentagon” initiative is the first “bounty” program for the government. Essentially, it involves challenging ethical or white-hat hackers to find weaknesses in network security. Private companies, including Google, Facebook, and many others, have long relied on such techniques to weed out security loopholes that might have otherwise allowed hackers to gain entry into the secure areas and wreak havoc.

Asking security testers or hackers from the private sector to find vulnerabilities might prove a little tricky for Eric Schmidt and his team due a particularly prerequisite. The Pentagon requires participants to register and pass a background check before allowing them to go after its websites, reported Pop Herald. Moreover, the scope of the program is significantly restricted. Specifically, the program won’t allow the hackers to test any of the mission-critical systems, confirmed the agency.

Eric Schmidt has been one of the most trusted advocates to President Obama in the early days of his administration. Ironically, Google has had numerous run-ins with the American government. The FTC nearly sued Google for antitrust violations in 2013. Google remains a strong opponent to the government’s policies on data collection. The company has now sided with Apple in its fight with FBI over encryption unlocking demands.

[Photo by Axel Schmidt/Getty Images]