Seven supercomputers recently took part in a virtual contest that saw them competing against one another in a bid to find software vulnerabilities.
Taking place in Las Vegas at DEF CON, a cybersecurity event, the seven supercomputers participated in the Cyber Grand Challenge where they were tasked with playing the hacking game Capture the Flag, which focuses on detecting software vulnerabilities.
It’s usually human hackers who take part in the game to detect vulnerabilities; however, it often takes humans a lot longer to identify flaws compared to supercomputers.
According to PC World, at the recent DEF CON conference, no human hackers took part, only the supercomputers, none of which required any assistance from their human inventors. The supercomputers were exposed to bugs including Heartbleed, Sendmail crackaddr, and the Morris Worm which the computers were able to detect and repair in minutes.
Mike Walker, program manager for the Cyber Grand Challenge, said in PC World that this was proof that automation was possible for the future.
While it has yet to be determined when exactly supercomputers will take over from humans in detecting software vulnerabilities, many believe that they will be ready for the challenge.
One person is David Brumley, a designer of one of the machines that took part in the Cyber Grand Challenge.
Cybersecurity has really relied on human effort, and we still need that, but we haven’t done enough to automate.
After this competition, the winning machine will go head-to-head with human players in another Capture the Flag game.
It remains to be seen, though, who will win between machine and human, but what we are witnessing now could essentially be the future of cybersecurity with supercomputers at the helm of our defense against cyber attacks.