DARPA Seeks Gamer Help To Test Military Software Vulnerability

DARPA Seeks Gamer Help To Test Military Software Vulnerability

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DARPA is turning to gamers as a cost-effective way to test military software applications for exploitable security flaws.

The U.S. military relies on a lot of "Commercial Off-the-Shelf" (COTS) software to do the things it needs done, but the trouble with that kind of software is that it's inherently insecure: It's not designed to withstand "sophisticated cyber attacks" launched by foreign agencies. To counter that, COTS applications are subjected to an analysis process called "formal verification," but this requires the services of specially-trained engineers, and they don't come cheap.

You, however, do, and so DARPA has opened the Verigames web portal as part of its Crowd Sourced Formal Verification program. The portal offers free online games which, through the magic of science, "translate players' actions into program annotations and generate mathematical proofs to verify the absence of important classes of flaws in software written in the C and Java programming languages."

"We're seeing if we can take really hard math problems and map them onto interesting, attractive puzzle games that online players will solve for fun," DARPA program manager Drew Dean said. "By leveraging players' intelligence and ingenuity on a broad scale, we hope to reduce security analysts' workloads and fundamentally improve the availability of formal verification."

There are currently five games available on the portal - CircuitBot, Flow Jam, Ghost Map, StormBound and Xylem - and while none of them are likely to vie for Game of the Year honors, they do offer an impressive degree of polish and legitimate entertainment value, albeit entertainment that might demand a little more cerebral activity than usual. I got nowhere with CircuitBot (with an admittedly minimal effort) but StormBound is actually kind of cool.

I still have no idea how this actually works, but science and freedom and cost-effectiveness, right? So step up and do your part at Verigames.com.

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Andy Chalk:

I still have no idea how this actually works, but science and freedom and cost-effectiveness, right? So step up and do your part at Verigames.com.

From the little I played of FLowJam, they are skightly changing the problem to make a game out of it. FOr example, FLow jam is about optimization of routs (which places can be jammed while making the whole arrengement optimal), so maybe it is related to search algorithms. Also it forces you to see which pipes can't be reduced, as narrow pipes are more optimal when a jam is posible. Those kind pf optimization problems are very resource intensive, so giving people a single problem to see if they can optimize it to a certain degree is quite effective when translated to otehr very similar problems of the similar arrengements.

This can be done in several games even. I'm sure the Starcraft and RTS crowd are great at local optimization of the Knap Sack Problem, seeing as it is allocation resource.

Love this idea and those ideas do make DAPRA a rally interesting thing.

So it's essentially FoldIt, but for guns. Woo 'Merica!

I love DAPRA they the best, the shit that they come up with is always so amusingly full of merica and awesome

Step up and help darpa? Sorry im already giving to the NSA, cant stretch myself too thin.

Nah... I've seen how this shit plays out before. First I'm solving a puzzle with some friends, next thing you know I'm stuck on a damaged ancient spaceship with a bunch of assholes and they expect me to be able to figure out how to unlock the controls and get them home.

Just be glad they're not mimicking the plot of that stupid old movie "Toys" by having kids piloting drones.

I'd like try some of these games out, but can't right now. My bandwidth is capped. Greedy telecom bastards...

EiMitch:
Just be glad they're not mimicking the plot of that stupid old movie "Toys" by having kids piloting drones.

I'd like try some of these games out, but can't right now. My bandwidth is capped. Greedy telecom bastards...

that movie kicked many asses. I actually had an idea for a short story, but felt it was too derivative of Toys to proceed. But the idea was that without even telling Activision, the gubmint was able to hack the latest Call of Duty game into the players controlling killbots on the battlefield. Honestly, if that's how wars were fought, I'd sign up real quick.

Double honestly, I didn't abandon the story because of its derivativeness, but because I couldn't come to terms with the ridiculousness of the logistics. In order to work, the fame would have to be made with the intention of controlling killbots, which then lead me to think I could use the story as a send-up of private military companies, which could have worked.. Then I lost interest.

They need our help designing a real world Metal Gear. I knew it!

tangoprime:
Nah... I've seen how this shit plays out before. First I'm solving a puzzle with some friends, next thing you know I'm stuck on a damaged ancient spaceship with a bunch of assholes and they expect me to be able to figure out how to unlock the controls and get them home.

Came expecting someone to make a Stargate Universe reference (or to make it myself). Thread delivered!

But seriously, my first thought was "This is exactly how Stargate Universe started." I'm still sad that show got canned :(

This is absolutley brilliant. Well played, DARPA.

i'm not too peachy on supporting this sort of thing out of principle, cool as this sort of thing is

remind me of those movies where beating a game means you hacked petangon or something.
Still why would you help DARPA of all things?

tangoprime:
Nah... I've seen how this shit plays out before. First I'm solving a puzzle with some friends, next thing you know I'm stuck on a damaged ancient spaceship with a bunch of assholes and they expect me to be able to figure out how to unlock the controls and get them home.

wow, and i thought noone is going to put this reference in. well done sir.

 

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