Cyberwarriors

College cyber warriors team with Pentagon on hacking tech

The 2018 defense budget could fund a new tech training program aimed at students.

The Hacking for Defense course, launched at Stanford University in 2016, encourages undergraduates to generate solutions to real national security issues using "startup principles." Student teams engage with Department of Defense officials and are assigned to develop tech solutions and prototypes. Now, this program may be slated to grow.

An amendment in the National Defense Authorization Act for 2018, which passed the House of Representatives on July 14, would expand the program.

Rep. Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill.) introduced the provision that would authorize the Defense secretary to spend up to $15 million on curriculum development, training materials and codifying best practices and standards in this new academic area.  Recruitment materials to encourage veterans to use their military expertise by working with the program would also be part of the budget.

Lipinski told FCW that "in a rapidly changing battlefield where technological development and threats are growing, there is an urgent need for moving quickly, and the Department of Defense has never been known to move quickly." 

A program like Hacking for Defense, he noted, is positioned to take advantage of entrepreneurial startup sensibilities. "You're taking what's been learned and used in Silicon Valley to very quickly pivot to develop products," which will help defend the nation, Lipinski said.  

About the Author

Ben Berliner is an editorial fellow at FCW. He is a 2017 graduate of Kenyon College, and has interned at the Center for Responsive Politics and at Sunlight Foundation.