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Expert Hacks Internal DoD Network via Army Website

A security researcher who took part in the Hack the Army bug bounty program managed to gain access to an internal Department of Defense (DoD) network from a public-facing Army recruitment website.

Hack the Army ran via the HackerOne platform between November 30 and December 21, and the results of the program have now been made public. A total of 371 people registered, including 25 government employees, and they submitted 416 vulnerability reports – the first one came within five minutes of launch.

Roughly 118 of the reports have been classified as unique and actionable, and participants have been awarded a total of approximately $100,000. The final amount may be larger as bounties are still being paid out.

The most noteworthy submission came from a researcher who managed to chain multiple vulnerabilities in order to get from the goarmy.com Army careers website to an internal DoD network that can normally be accessed only by authorized users.

“They got there through an open proxy, meaning the routing wasn’t shut down the way it should have been, and the researcher, without even knowing it, was able to get to this internal network, because there was a vulnerability with the proxy, and with the actual system,” the Army said in a blog post on HackerOne.

The Army believes an automated testing system could not have known how to chain less serious flaws into a potentially dangerous exploit.

Hack the Army was announced in mid-November after the DoD awarded a combined $7 million contract to HackerOne and Synack for helping the organization’s components launch bug bounty programs similar to Hack the Pentagon.

Hack the Pentagon received 138 valid submissions and it cost the U.S. government $150,000, half of which went to participants. Thanks to the success of these programs, similar events will likely be launched in the future.

In the meantime, researchers who find flaws in the DoD’s *.defense.gov and *.mil websites are still encouraged to report them. The Pentagon recently published its vulnerability disclosure policy in an effort to provide guidance to white hat hackers on how to legally report their findings.

Related Reading: US Army Website Hacked

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Eduard Kovacs is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.