The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) is seeking more teams to join the 35 that have already signed up to compete in its Cyber Grand Challenge.
Entrants will compete next year for a chance to win a $2m prize for the best automated network security solution, with the final taking place in Las Vegas in 2016.
"Computer security experts from academia, industry and the larger security community have organised themselves into more than 30 teams to compete in Darpa's Cyber Grand Challenge – a first-of-its-kind tournament designed to speed the development of automated security systems able to defend against cyber attacks as fast as they are launched," Darpa said.
Such attacks pose greater risks than ever as more and more devices, including vehicles and homes, get networked in what has become known as the Internet of Things.
The challenge follows a capture-the-flag format and is designed to identify a solution that can respond much more quickly than current network security methods.
"Today's security methods involve experts working with computerised systems to identify attacks, craft corrective patches and signatures and distribute those correctives to users everywhere – a process that can take months from the time an attack is first launched," said Mike Walker, Darpa program manager.
"The only effective approach to defending against today's ever-increasing volume and diversity of attacks is to shift to fully automated systems capable of discovering and neutralising attacks instantly."
A first qualifying round will take place in 2015 and the finals, which will be held at the same time as Defcon in Las Vegas, will take place in 2016.
35 teams have registered to take part, and more space is available. The use of competition and challenges to unearth security talent is a common tactic, with the UK cyber security challenge now in its fifth year.
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