Military Embedded Systems

DARPA declares Mayhem as winner of Cyber Grand Challenge


August 05, 2016

Mariana Iriarte

Technology Editor

Military Embedded Systems

DARPA declares Mayhem as winner of Cyber Grand Challenge
Team ForAllSecure based out of Pittsburg. Photo by DARPA.

LAS VEGAS. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA) Cyber Grand Challenge (CGC) named ForAllSecure?s computer system, Mayhem, as the winner of the world?s first all-hacking competition. Team TECHx with Xandra took second place and Mechanical Phish designed by team Shellphish placed third in the competition.

Teams performed in front of 5,000 computer security professionals and others at the Paris Las Vegas Conference Center. The event was also streamed live for remote viewers. First place took a cash price of $2 million, while second- and third-place teams received $1 million and $750,000, respectively.

Officials say, DEF CON organizers are expected to formally invite Mayhem to participate in this year’s DEF CON Capture the Flag competition, marking the first time a machine will be allowed to play in that all-human tournament. DEF CON immediately follows Cyber Grand Challenge at the Paris Las Vegas Conference Center.

Mike Walker, DARPA program manager who launched the challenge in 2013, says “I’m enormously gratified that we achieved CGC’s primary goal, which was to provide clear proof of principle that machine-speed, scalable cyberdefense is indeed possible. I’m confident it will speed the day when networked attackers no longer have the inherent advantage they enjoy today.”

The events involved competitors playing Capture the Flag in a computer testbed created with an array of bugs hidden inside custom software that has never been analyzed. The machines were challenged to find and patch within seconds flawed code that was vulnerable to being hacked, and find their opponents’ weaknesses before the defending systems did.

This may be the end of DARPA's Cyber Grand Challenge, Walker states. However, its an advance compared to yesterday's cyberdefense world and “We now have seen for the first time autonomy involving the kind of reasoning that’s required for cyberdefense."

For more about the Cyber Grand Challenge, visit


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