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DARPA network defense contest offers $2M prize

Oct. 23, 2013 - 03:45AM   |  
By MICHAEL PECK   |   Comments
DARPA says the Cyber Grand Challenge 'seeks to drive an automation revolution in information security.'
DARPA says the Cyber Grand Challenge 'seeks to drive an automation revolution in information security.' (DARPA)
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A $2 million prize will be up for grabs in the first Cyber Grand Challenge — a tournament for fully automatic network defense systems sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

“DARPA’s series of vehicle grand challenges were the dawn of the self-driving car revolution,” said program manager Mike Walker. “With the Cyber Grand Challenge, we intend a similar revolution for information security. Today, our time to patch a newly discovered security flaw is measured in days. Through automatic recognition and remediation of software flaws, the term for a new cyber attack may change from zero-day to zero-second.”

As they chase the $2 million cash prize, contestants will first devise automatic systems to evaluate software, test for vulnerabilities, create security patches and apply those patches to networks.

“The growth trends we’ve seen in cyber attacks and malware point to a future where automation must be developed to assist IT security analysts,” said Dan Kaufman, director of DARPA’s Information Innovation Office, which oversees the challenge.

Winners of the qualifying event will go on to a grand challenge in 2016. Competitors can choose one of two routes: an unfunded track in which anyone capable of fielding a capable system can participate, and a funded track in which DARPA awards contracts to organizations presenting the most compelling proposals.

Potential competitors can find specific information in a broad agency announcement released Oct. 22.

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