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MILITARY TECHNOLOGY (MILTECH) is the world's leading international tri-service defence monthly magazine in the English language. MILITARY TECHNOLOGY is "Required Reading for Defence Professionals". Follow us on Twitter: MILTECH1

08 August 2016

DARPA Cyber Grand Challenge Prizes Awarded

The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) awarded prizes on 5 August to three teams that demonstrated autonomous cyber defence capabilities in the agency’s Cyber Grand Challenge (CGC). All seven finalists received awards for what DARPA described as, “the world’s first autonomous bug-hunting machines.”

In a contest over eight hours at DEF CON, the world’s largest hacking convention in Las Vehas, NV/USA, consisting of 97 rounds of approximately 270 seconds each, the competing machines authored over 400 sets of new native code that were more secure than the originals they replaced and 650 unique ‘proofs of vulnerability,’ showing how susceptible to attack the software being analysed actually was.

Mike Walker, DARPAS’s CGC programme manager, said “Tonight we showed that machines can exist that can detect those lock-picks and respond immediately. We have redefined what is possible and we did it in the course of [just] hours with autonomous systems that we challenged the world to build.

Although autonomous capability was a major feature of the competing designs, questions from the convention delegates focused on whether the competitors would be able to defeat experienced human hackers. Further trails to investigate the robust and sustainable nature of the bots’ capabilities are expected to continue.