DARPA’s cybersecurity hack-a-thon kicks off

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

DARPA knows that while an ultra-connected society brings many benefits, it also opens up dangers that need to be defended against. So, why not fight fire with fire… or shall we say, hacking with hackers?

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) not only develops military technologies like drones and robots for the USA, it also creates cyber defense solutions to battle the growing threat of hackers. Now, DARPA’s Cyber Grand Challenge invites security experts around the world to create software programs capable of fighting cyberattacks on their own.

Registration for the tournament is open through November, and so far 35 teams have signed up for a chance to win the $2 million prize. Over the next 2 years, they’ll be finding hidden weaknesses in software as it tries to stop real-time “capture the flag” hacker attacks from seizing computer systems.

“Today’s security methods involve experts working with computerized systems to identify attacks, craft corrective patches and signatures, and distribute those correctives to users everywhere – a process that can take months from the time an attack is first launched,” said Mike Walker, DARPA program manager. “The only effective approach to defending against today’s ever-increasing volume and diversity of attacks is to shift to fully automated systems capable of discovering and neutralizing attacks instantly.”

The final stage of the competition will take place in August 2016, and DARPA is hoping to discover methods that will prevent hackers from breaking into computer systems. And where will the ultimate high-tech showdown take place? In Las Vegas, during DEF CON, the world’s longest running and biggest underground hacking conference!

Images courtesy of DARPA.