The challenge boils down to an oft-repeated mantra in the world of information security (or cybersecurity, if you prefer the more sneezed-at term): attackers only have to win once—or find one bug—while defenders have to win all the time, with no margin for even one error. But automated security software could help: in essence, it would be a robot hacker that might actually really win all the time and stop its malicious counterparts.
That software doesn't exist yet, but the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the US military's research arm, believes that it's only a matter of time.
"I believe the world series of hacking will soon be won by a machine," Mike Walker, a program manager at DARPA, s?aid last year.
Walker was referring to the famed hacking competition known as "capture the flag," where hackers compete trying to break into or defend systems. The most famous capture the flag competition is celebrated every year at Def Con, one of the world's largest hacking conferences.
Next year, DEF CON will host the first capture the flag for computers only, where machines, instead of hackers, will compete against each other for a prize of $2 million in DARPA's Cyber Grand Ch?allenge.