Closeup of a blurred man's hands typing on computer keyboard. He is most likely one of many white hat hackers.

The government seeks the help of white hat hackers in order to tighten the nation’s cyber security.

Cybersecurity is on the forefront of everyone’s minds. Just ask the Democratic National Committee (DNC) if they wish their email servers had been more secure. In the world of digital data, the hacker can do more damage in a day than almost any weapon. Businesses can be greatly compromised overnight due to hacks. How can you protect your business? Have you ever considered hiring white hat hackers to help?

That’s just what the Department of Defense (DoD) did a few months ago—setting loose 1,400 white hat (no criminal intent) hackers on the Pentagon’s cyber defenses. They were promised rewards for finding security flaws in the system so that the government could close the gaps to future black hat (criminal) hackers.

The white hat hackers filed a total of 1,189 reports on things they discovered. Of these, the government determined that 138 reports qualified as valid security concerns. In total, more than $70,000 was paid out to the hackers as rewards for the legitimate reports. In the end, the program was viewed as a success. The total cost of the program was estimated at about one-seventh (14%) of what a professional contractor would have cost.

This isn’t the only DoD project in place that provides bounties to hackers. Others in the future will allow hackers to search for potential exploits in applications and websites used by the government.

White Hat Hackers: What Does This Mean for Your Business?

The U.S. government may be happy with the results, but this probably isn’t the route you want to go with your business. Why not? What if, while fooling around in your system, a hacker leaves himself a backdoor to get in later? You simply don’t want to take that chance with your livelihood.

The fact is that, for an SMB (small to medium-sized business), a security audit is affordable. So there’s no need to provide a bounty to hackers and let them run wild on your system. A security audit can allow a consulting agency to determine the weak points in your data security, so these can then be secured.

If you want to protect your business, you have to protect your data, which means getting professional assistance.