The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s first all-computer Capture the Flag tournament headed into its final face-off Thursday in Las Vegas.
The Cyber Grand Challenge’s test of wits pit seven computer security systems against each other with nearly $4 million in prizes on the line in the live network competition.
In such contests, experts reverse-engineer software, probe its weaknesses, search for deeply hidden flaws and create securely patched replacements.
The team ForAllSecure created the winning computer system, dubbed Mayhem.
The final event will took place ahead of DEF CON on Friday, a hacker conference that is home to the longest-running annual Capture the Flag competition.
In DARPA’s challenge, the seven systems played in a specially created computer test bed oozing with an array of bugs hidden inside custom, never-before-analyzed software.
The machines were challenged to find and patch the bugs in seconds and find their opponents’ weaknesses before the defending systems do.
The event was visualized on giant monitors at the Paris Las Vegas Hotel while announcers called the competition’s action.
The aim of the project is to figure out ways to automate the response to cyber attacks, DARPA said.