Remember the HAL 3000 from the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey”? Despite his homicidal turn for the worst in the end, HAL was a computing dream, able to predict problems and solve them automatically.
On Oct. 22, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency announced its first-ever tournament for fully automatic network defense systems, a computer that can fix itself, much like HAL.
Teams that enter the tournament will create systems that automatically evaluate software, create security patches and look for holes in security.
“DARPA’s series of vehicle grand challenges were the dawn of the self-driving care revolution,” Mike Walker, DARPA program manager, said in a statement. “With the Cyber Grand Challenge, we intend a similar revolution for information security.”
The grand prize for the challenge is $2 million. DARPA hopes to attract teams from some of the most prestigious technology companies in the nation.
Teams can choose two tracks, an unfunded track where anyone building a system can participate and a funded track in which DARPA will award contacts to the best models.
DARPA plans to invite the top competitors to a qualifying event in mid-2016.
The event could save the federal government a significant amount of time and money if a capable system is created. According to Arbor Networks, there are more than 3,000 denial-of-service attacks per day, not to mention the many other forms of attack. Cybersecurity experts have said one of the biggest problems for protecting data is the constantly changing attacks that pummel computers and servers.
A self-fixing computer could alleviate the problem of evolving attacks.