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Darpa’s New ‘Fast Track’ Okays Hacker Projects in Just Seven Days

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November 14, 2011
FedCyber Wire, Solution Providers, Spending
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It’s an open secret: For years, hackers and feds have been strange bedfellows in the mission to defend military networks. Three-letter agencies set up recruiting booths with schwag at security conferences like Black Hat, and feds party it up with the computer nerds at the so-called “underground hacking conference” DefCon after enlisting intelligence help.

Darpa, with the help of former hacker Peiter “Mudge” Zatko, wants to find a way for the government make that alliance even easier. With an eye on hacker-minded researchers who operate on small budgets and in their free time, Darpa is awarding small, short-term contracts to those who have a knack for discovering holes in network defenses. It’ll harness some of the creativity brewing at hacker-conferences and experimental hacker-spaces — which, incidentally, already underpin some of the multi-million, multi-year defense contracts being inked.

The program is called Cyber Fast Track. And in the two months since it was launched, seven contracts have been awarded to nontraditional players, such as small boutique companies and independent researchers. Average time for award money to be okayed in this program? Seven days: the military equivalent of a nano-second. ”Actually, four is the median because we got better and faster at it,” said Zatko, who spoke about the program at a New York University-Poly campus in Brooklyn last week. (The video above is from an earlier, more formal presentation at the University of Rhode Island.)

via Wired, continued here.