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DARPA competition offers $2m prize for best automated cyber defence system

Claims current network security systems are 'inadequate' due to need for humans
Tue Jun 03 2014, 15:58

THE UNITED STATES Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) has launched a competition to seek out cyber defence systems of the future.

More than 30 teams will compete in the DARPA Cyber Grand Challenge, and will battle it out to win the $2m prize on offer to the one that creates the best automated security system to defend against cyber attacks without the help of computer security engineers.

DARPA said it launched the project due to the "inadequate" network security systems available, which usually require programmers to identify vulnerabilities, likely after attackers have already taken advantage of them. The military research outfit added that this, thanks to the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), now poses a greater risk than ever.

DARPA programme manager Mike Walker said, "Today's security methods involve experts working with computerised 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.

"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 neutralising attacks instantly."

The Cyber Grand Challenge will "test the wits of machines, not experts", DARPA noted, and will follow a capture the flag format, which means competitors will be tasked to find and fix weaknesses in software.

To coincide with the competition's kick off, DARPA also released DECREE, and open source extension built on top of Linux that it claims will offer "a safe research and experimentation environment" for the challenge.

The final competition will be held at the Defcon security conference in 2016, with DARPA offering the winner a cool $2m, and those in second and third place $1m and $750,000, respectively. µ


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