DARPA's Cyber Grand Challenge -known as CGC- took place in front of a 5,000 audience of computer security professionals and press representatives. Image Source: The Register

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is attempting to take cyber security to the next level by sponsoring artificial bug-hunting software.

The U.S Defense Department branch hosted its third all-machine anti-hacking competition called “The Cyber Grand Challenge” in Las Vega’s Paris Conference Center last week. Seven teams were put to test with ForAllSecure’s “Mayhem” system emerging as the winner of the $2 million prize.

The Cyber Grand Challenge is the ultimate non-human security software competition

DARPA’s Cyber Grand Challenge -known as CGC- took place in front of a 5,000 audience of computer security professionals and press representatives. High-performance computers were used to face off the team´s designed software by playing a virtual capture the flag contest.

The bug-hunting systems performed complicated tasks such as reverse engineering of unknown binary code, probing the security of opponent software, and defense/generation of patches.

Some of the teams involved spent up to three years in the development of its anti-hacking programs, but Pittsburg-based ForAllSecure took the big prize home in the end. ForAllSecure was followed by “Xandra” -made by TECHx- and Shellphish’s “Mechanical Phish on the second and third place, both were granted rewards of $1 million and $750,000 respectively.

The defense branch is getting closer to its primary goal

DARPA’s motive for this sort of competitions is to find the best AI for cyber security, and this year’s CGC may be the definitive end to the quest, according to the program’s manager, Mike Walker.

“I’M ENORMOUSLY GRATIFIED THAT WE ACHIEVED CGC’S PRIMARY GOAL, WHICH WAS TO PROVIDE CLEAR PROOF OF PRINCIPLE THAT MACHINE-SPEED, SCALABLE CYBERSECURITY IS INDEED POSSIBLE. I’M CONFIDENT IT WILL SPEED THE DAY WHEN NETWORKED ATTACKERS NO LONGER HAVE THE INHERENT ADVANTAGE THEY ENJOY TODAY”, he said.

The “Mayhem” system is set to make history at DEF CON

DARPA’s searching of automated cyber security started in 2013 with the first annual CGC. The premise of a security system that would act as fast as a high-end computer was the primary motive for this year´s winning team.

 “THE IDEA IS, YOU FIND IT BEFORE THE BAD GUYS DO,” said David Brumley, the helm of startup team ForAllSecure.

DEFCON officials are expected to invite the “Mayhem” software to take part in its capture the flag contest. It would be the first time an AI bug hunter participates in an all-human tournament. DARPA has recently shared a highlight reel of this year’s CGC on its Youtube Channel, where users can get a taste of the high-performance computers battling each other.

Source: Fox News

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