Prize Challenges have been growing in popularity as the Government tries to get out from under their cumbersome, innovation-sapping Federal Acquisition Regulations. Recently, the US Navy has seen some excellent success with their Artificial Intelligence Applications to Autonomous Cybersecurity (IA ATAC) Challenge. Anyone over 18 years of age, who is a US citizen, can participate. And there can be real money in it!
Naval Warfare Command brought in Oak Ridge National Laboratory to help build out the test environments and sort/evaluate the submissions. They issued their first IA ATAC challenge late last year seeking solutions to detect endpoint malware. Submissions were tested against over 100,000 samples, of which close to half contained malware. FireEye won the first prize at $100,000.
The second challenge, Network Detection of Adversarial Campaign Activity, was issued early this year and has generated a large amount of interest. They are currently grading the solutions and expect to award the winner by the end of the year. This prize is worth $500,000.
The third challenge in this series will be announced early next year and will focus on Security Operations Center Automation solutions. As the challenges become more complex, the payout increases. This one will award $750,000 to the winner.
These Prize Challenges have some additional perks besides fame and glory! They get to work closely with the Government on real challenges. They have the opportunity to test their solutions in a Government environment, against their competitors. And most important, they can easily lead to follow on contracts for larger mission sets.
This seems like a trend here. With all the sharing of best practices we can assume that other DoD Services and Agencies and other elements of government will be leveraging this type of approach to keep learning. Stay tuned for more.
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