The Pentagon's elite 'SWAT team of nerds' are the reason a Florida company took over a huge chunk of government internet space

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The Pentagon's elite 'SWAT team of nerds' are the reason a Florida company took over a huge chunk of government internet space
Vice-President Kamala Harris and President Joe Biden arrive at the Pentagon.Pool / Getty Images
  • An unknown Florida company reportedly controls a huge chunk of the internet thanks to the Pentagon.
  • The Pentagon's Defense Digital Service (DDS) team told AP it's running the project to boost security.
  • The DDS' director calls it a "SWAT team of nerds." It also cyber-protected the US' vaccine efforts.
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An unknown Florida company reportedly took control of a substantial portion of the internet owned by the Pentagon, all thanks to a project run by an elite team of government "hoodies, hackers, and nerds."

Just three minutes before President Donald Trump's term in office ended, Global Resource Systems LLC took over a slice of government internet space through a Department of Defense (DoD) project, The Washington Post first reported.

Since then, the company has increased the number of IP addresses it manages for the Pentagon to about 175 million, The Post reported. That share is bigger than those owned by both Comcast and AT&T.

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This is part of a pilot project run by the Pentagon's Defense Digital Service (DDS), according to The Post. This was corroborated by the Associated Press.

The DDS wouldn't say what exactly the project involved, but said it hoped that it would help prevent unauthorized use of DoD internet space and identify potential vulnerabilities, per AP.

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In 2020, Brett Goldstein, the service's director, described the DDS as a "SWAT team of nerds" designed to tackle some of the department's biggest problems. It partnered with the National Security Agency to cyber-protect Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration's COVID-19 vaccine development program, and developed a prototype for a biometric app that lets soldiers identify others nearby when in combat, among other projects.

"At the end of the day, everything we do at DDS is to save lives," the DDS says on its website. "No one else is coming, and it's up to us. We have the ability to make a difference in the most important way."

Read more: Meet the 20-year-old super-hacker who was the youngest member of the Pentagon's 'SWAT team of nerds' and is now fighting for election security with Homeland Security

As of October, DDS had 82 engineers, data scientists, designers, product managers, and computer scientists, per its website. They are a group of "hoodies, hackers, and nerds," it says.

Most are civilians "from the Silicon Valley world" who join the team for a two- to four-year term, the DoD said, though some come from elsewhere in the government or military, while others are contractors.

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Goldstein said in 2020 that the DDS, which was founded in 2015, had a rigorous selection process, and that the work is tough but "engineers love challenges."

The DDS says it operates as a "flat hierarchy," with everyone reporting directly to leadership and organized into "guilds" based on their skills. It says this encourages personal responsibility and removes interpersonal competition.

The DDS itself reports directly to the secretary of defense.

DDS set up its "hack the Pentagon" program in 2016, which it says was the federal government's first-ever bug bounty program. This lets independent hackers search for vulnerabilities in the department's IT systems and come up with fixes.

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