DARPA launches Cyber Grand Challenge

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) recently launched the Cyber Grand Challenge.

The event is the first tournament designed to speed the development of automated security systems in the event of a cyber attack, HSToday reports.

DARPA said it anticipates the two-year challenge will encourage cooperation between the diverse computer and network security community, according to HSToday.

"Today's security methods involve experts working with computerized 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," DARPA Program Manager Mike Walker said, HSToday reports. "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 neutralizing attacks instantly."

The challenge will use a "capture the flag" competition that will require experts to reverse engineer software to probe its weaknesses and search for deeply hidden flaws to create securely patched replacements. The same type of reverse engineering used to discover problems in network software helped to uncover the recent Heartbleed flaw, according to HSToday.

The contest will hold its first qualifying event in 2015. The final competition of the Cyber Grand Challenge will be held at the DEF CON Conference in 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada.