WASHINGTON, March 2–The U.S. Department of Defense said Wednesday that it will invite hackers to test the department’s cybersecurity as part of what it called “the first cyber bug bounty program in the history of the federal government.”

Only “vetted hackers” will be allowed to take part in the “Hack the Pentagon” initiative, the department said, meaning that participants will first need to pass a background check prior to any involvement with the pilot program.

The “Hack the Pentagon” initiative is being led by the department’s Defense Digital Service (DDS), which included a small team of engineers and data experts meant to improve the department’s technological agility and identify problems before malicious hackers can exploit them, saving money and time in the event of damaging network breaches.

Participants in the competition could receive monetary awards and other recognition.

The pilot program will launch in April and the department will provide more details on requirements for participation and other ground rules in the coming weeks.

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