Attacks/Breaches

8/5/2016
02:10 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Team With Carnegie Mellon Roots Wins Machine Hacking Contest

'Mayhem' takes home $2 million prize in historic DARPA machine-to-machine hacking challenge.

DEF CON 24--Las Vegas--History was made here last night as DARPA held the world’s first all-machine hacking tournament.

Even though its system crashed more than halfway into the tournament, ForAllSecure and its Mayhem cyber reasoning system (CRS) machine won the contest after holding the lead for most of the tournament. The ForAllSecure team grew out of more than a decade of research at Carnegie Mellon University. Mayhem uses symbolic execution to generate deep paths in the program, searching for flaws.

One of the highlights of the DARPA hacking tournament was the challenges where the CRSes had to patch notable bugs and worms. The goal was to see that if the CRS capability had existed at the time of the attack, it could have detected a vulnerability and then patched it.

The results were promising: Six of the seven teams patched SQL Slammer and six of the seven uncovered proof of vulnerability (POV). SQL Slammer was the infamous worm that took out 75,000 systems in under 10 minutes in 2003.

In another promising result, six of the seven team patched the Heartbleed bug and one team had a POV. The patches and POVs were completed in minutes.

“This is a huge deal,” said "Visi," a white hat hacker who helped man the play-by-play anchor desk during the competition. “In the past, patching these vulnerabilities took humans days and weeks of doing the work by hand.

TechX, the team that combined engineers from GrammaTech and hackers from the University of Virginia took second place. The team’s Xandra CRS draws from GrammaTech’s expertise in symbolic execution and the University of Virginia’s ability to take programs and modify them.

Third place went to Shellphish, a team that largely consists of students from the University of California-Santa Barbara. Shellphish’s ARS was Mechanical Phish, which uses Angr, a software toolbox that analyzes binary software and seeks to stop it in its tracks.

ForAllSecure received $2 million; TechX, $1 million; and Shellphish, $750,000.

Alex Rebert, co-founder of ForAllSecure and team lead on the Cyber Grand Challenge project, said that company is largely self-funded and would use the prize money to continue its operations and research into autonomous computing.

WWF Meets The NFL

The contest itself was an attempt by DARPA to bring some star power into the world of hacking. The intros of the team was a cross between a World Wrestling Federation contest with bright flashing lights and a booming announcer and an important professional sports contest like the Super Bowl or the NBA Finals.

Hakeem Oluseyi, a professor of physics and space sciences at the Florida Institute of Technology and prominent hackers Visi and HJ, short for Hawaii John, provided the color commentary. Visi was on the anchor desk with Oluseyi, who did the play-by-play, and HJ stayed with the teams and conducted interviews as results came in. 

Visi said he was impressed that even though ForAllSecure won by a considerable margin, the teams were all very close.

“This doesn’t always happen in human capture-the-flag tournements,” he said. “Very often teams build up big leads and play Guitar Hero to taunt their competitors.”

Related Content:

 

Steve Zurier has more than 30 years of journalism and publishing experience, most of the last 24 of which were spent covering networking and security technology. Steve is based in Columbia, Md. View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Russia Hacked Clinton's Computers Five Hours After Trump's Call
Robert Lemos, Technology Journalist/Data Researcher,  4/19/2019
Tips for the Aftermath of a Cyberattack
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  4/17/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
5 Emerging Cyber Threats to Watch for in 2019
Online attackers are constantly developing new, innovative ways to break into the enterprise. This Dark Reading Tech Digest gives an in-depth look at five emerging attack trends and exploits your security team should look out for, along with helpful recommendations on how you can prevent your organization from falling victim.
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-6157
PUBLISHED: 2019-04-22
In various firmware versions of Lenovo System x, the integrated management module II (IMM2)'s first failure data capture (FFDC) includes the web server's private key in the generated log file for support.
CVE-2015-1343
PUBLISHED: 2019-04-22
All versions of unity-scope-gdrive logs search terms to syslog.
CVE-2016-1573
PUBLISHED: 2019-04-22
Versions of Unity8 before 8.11+16.04.20160122-0ubuntu1 file plugins/Dash/CardCreator.js will execute any code found in place of a fallback image supplied by a scope.
CVE-2016-1579
PUBLISHED: 2019-04-22
UDM provides support for running commands after a download is completed, this is currently made use of for click package installation. This functionality was not restricted to unconfined applications. Before UDM version 1.2+16.04.20160408-0ubuntu1 any confined application could make use of the UDM C...
CVE-2016-1584
PUBLISHED: 2019-04-22
In all versions of Unity8 a running but not active application on a large-screen device could talk with Maliit and consume keyboard input.