Daily Management Review

Millions Earned by Geeks by Teaching Computers to Battle Each Other


08/05/2016




Millions Earned by Geeks by Teaching Computers to Battle Each Other
Helping the team that wrote the winning code to make a potential earning of a $2 million prize is a software program dubbed "Mayhem". This program which helps to teach computers to launch and defend against cyber attacks, was poised to win the final round of a three-year contest.
 
After a digital battle among software programs running on seven supercomputers on a stage in a Las Vegas ballroom, the event, known as the Cyber Grand Challenge, concluded Thursday evening in a Las Vegas convention center ballroom.
 
A play-by-play account of the competition was presented by announcers for the thousands who had gathered to watch the event. Def Con, a hacking convention expected to draw more than 20,000 people to two sprawling Las Vegas convention centers is to be held from Friday and this event was the perfect prelude to it.
 
The DARPA, or the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the U.S. military laboratory credited with creating the Internet, was he sponsor of the event. For the event that was dubbed the first "capture the flag" hacking contest played solely by computers, more than $55 million was spent for the effort by DARPA.
 
The goal of stimulating development of technologies for automating the process of protecting computer networks against cyber attacks had been successful, the agency officials said.
 
The seven machines succeeded in identifying a total of 650 code vulnerabilities and rewriting 421 programs to fix them, said DARPA program director Mike Walker.
 
"A spark was lit today. We have proven that autonomy is possible," he said.
 
A contest for self-driving vehicles that is widely credited with kick-starting the now robust autonomous-vehicle industry is among the previous contests that had been organized and sponsored by DARPA.
 
In the contest, computers were charged with examining software programs, identifying bugs, patching them and finding ways to attack rival machines in a total of 96 rounds of hacking challenges.
 
The slow process of identifying and patching real-world bugs would be speeded up, hopes the DARPA. According to DARPA, from the time a vulnerability is uncovered until a vendor releases a software patch, it can take a total of almost a year.
 
One factor that security experts say has contributed to the surge in cyber attacks is this delay that gives hackers time to attack unprotected systems.
 
Pending an overnight review of the results, "Mayhem" was provisionally named winner.
 
Eight computer experts from San Francisco and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania created the winning program. Carnegie Mellon University, which regularly produces teams that earn top scores in the annual Def Con hacking contest was the affiliate for the winning team.
 
When this year's Def Con contest starts Friday, Mayhem will compete against Carnegie Mellon students and other elite hackers. It is the first time a computer has competed.
 
A program dubbed Xandra, created by security experts from the University of Virginia and GrammaTech Inc took second place. The program has earned $1 million.
 
Placed third, earning its creators $750,000 was a program known as Mech Phish, which was born at the University of California.
 
(Source:www.reuters.com)






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