US Military Launches $2M Hacking Contest

Imagine a computer that has the ability to fix its own problems!  What would that mean for this technology driven world?  It is a hope, by the Defense Department, that supercomputers will be able to find and fix (or exploit) their own computer flaws in the near future!

Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), a research wing within the military, has decided to run a $2 million contest for hackers.  The catch is, the hackers are computers themselves.

One of the biggest problems faced in cybersecurity, is the cost to defend against hackers.  Companies have to spend a lot in order to protect themselves.  Researchers and new technology costs money but it is what is needed in order to find holes in their own software, fix these holes, then buy systems that alert firms of any hacker attacks.  For $1 million, anyone could create a team of hackers who could get into any online computer system.  However, finding a team to defend cyberthreats would be a lot more difficult.

Computer v Computer

DARPA’s program manager, Mike Walker, wants to make protection a lot more cost effective by making machines that will find and patch their own security holes. “If you look at the imbalance of power between attack and defense, it’s a problem of economics,”

In the competition, any computer that can hack into another computer will gain points.  Those that fend off attacks will also gain points.  It is like capture the flag for computers.  Many organisations would benefit from this supercomputer.  However, even a basic machine that hacks itself is far off!  The finals won’t be held until 2016 at Def Con.  The winner will get $2 million; second place gets $1 million; and third place gets $750, 000.  Not too shabby!

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