DARPA Launches AI Cyber Challenge
Written by Kay Ewbank   
Friday, 18 August 2023

President Biden has announced a two-year competition to develop better cybersecurity products using AI. The AI Cyber Challenge (AIxCC) has almost $20 million in prizes, and will see teams compete to develop AI-driven systems to automatically secure critical code.

The announcement was made at Black Hat USA 2023, and the competition will be led by DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency). 


There are two tracks to the competition, a funded track and an open track. Participants for the funded track will be selected from proposals submitted to a Small Business Innovation Research group, and up to seven small businesses will receive funding to participate. However, most competitors will take part in the Open Track competition. To take part in this, competitors register with DARPA via the competition website, and there's no DARPA funding for this track. Regarding the funded track, the White House said in a statement that:

"to ensure broad participation and a level playing field for AIxCC, DARPA will also make available $7 million to small businesses who want to compete."

All teams will take part in a qualifying event during the semifinal phase, where the top scoring teams (up to 20) will be invited to participate in the semifinal competition. Five top scoring teams will win $2 million each, and can then carry on to the final phase and competition. The top three scoring competitors in the final competition will receive additional monetary prizes, with the overall winner getting $4 million, the runner up $3 million and the third placed competitor getting $1.5 million.

A number of high profile companies are cooperating with DARPA to provide technology and expertise to challenge competitors, including Anthropic, Google, Microsoft, and OpenAI. OpenSSF (The Open Source Security Foundation) will act as an advisor for teams. They're involved because most of the code needing of protection is open-source software. According to the Linux Foundation (of which OpenSSF is part), open-source software is part of roughly 80% of modern software stacks, including the code needing protection.

The semifinal and final parts of the competitions will be held at DEF CON in Las Vegas in 2024 and 2025, with additional events at Black Hat USA. Entry forms and more information are available on the competition website.


More Information

DARPA AI Cyber Challenge Website

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