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Senate Committee OKs DHS Bug Bounty Program Bill

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has approved a bill, sponsored by Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Maggie Hassan (D-New Hampshire),  that would establish a bug bounty pilot program at the Department of Homeland Security.

The Hack Department of Homeland Security Act would allow DHS to enlist the help of ethical hackers to find previously undiscovered vulnerabilities within the department’s information technology and networks, According to an article published Wednesday on Portman’s website.

Hassan’s office said in May a DHS bug bounty program will be based on a similar initiative of the Defense Department and hire the services of “white-hat” hackers and technology firms such as Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google.

Portman said that incentivizing ethical private-sector hackers can help DHS identify network vulnerabilities before potential adversaries exploit security flaws.

“What we propose is basically taking the Pentagon model,” Portman told Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee members during the panel’s markup of the bill Wednesday.

“What it says is that you actually bring in the White Hats, the hackers that are good at what they do, and try to find vulnerabilities in the system,” Portman added.

Sens. Clair McCaskill (D-Missouri) and Kamala Harris (D-California) are co-sponsors of the Hack DHS Act.

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