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Hackers launch cyberattacks against US satellite, requested by Pentagon

The U.S. Air Force and Space Force began a hacking competition at a Las Vegas convention this week, challenging teams to access a real, orbiting satellite.

Hackers are competing to be the first to crack into a U.S. government satellite in a contest administrated by the Pentagon. 

Officials with the Air Force and Space Force organized the Las Vegas competition to hack into a functioning satellite currently orbiting the globe, which will pay out a $50,000 first prize.

Five teams are participating in the "Hack-a-Sat" competition, which will provide national defense agencies with insight into cybersecurity weak points and advanced infiltration tactics.

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"We don’t want to just be a big, monolithic organization," Space Force Capt. Kevin Bernert said, according to Politico. "We want to get as many people smartly involved. And so the long-term impact in that is to understand that you have to bake in cybersecurity — you don’t just bolt it on afterwards."

It is only the latest in the Defense Department's attempts to bring outside tech experts into developing military systems.

The Pentagon has extended similar opportunities for collaboration to experts in other cutting-edge tech fields.

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Silicon Valley has started scooping up military contracts as the Pentagon turns to private companies to boost artificial intelligence (AI) development and adoption, according to reports.

"This kind of change doesn’t always move as smoothly or as quickly as I’d like," Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said during a speech in December to a group that included start-up tech companies. 

The courtship between tech start-ups and the Department of Defense (DOD) started well before the public engagement with large language models (LLMs) like ChatGPT: Saildrone, a start-up founded in 2013, had begun developing an armada of AI systems to conduct surveillance in international waters in 2021.

Alexander Karp, CEO and co-founder of Palantir Technologies, wrote an open letter to European leaders just weeks after Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022 and urged them to modernize their armies with Silicon Valley’s help.

Fox News Digital's Peter Aitken contributed to this report.

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