Facebook offering up to $300K in awards for Internet defense contest

The social network is also open sourcing an intrusion detection program touted to be comparable to commercial offerings at a fraction of the cost.

Following a better-than-expected earnings report on Tuesday, Facebook is putting more of its money into protecting the Internet -- not to mention the data of its 1.35 billion users and counting.

Announced at the tail end of National Cyber Security Awareness Month, Facebook is teaming with the USENIX Association to dole out up to $300,000 in awards for the Internet Defense Prize.

USENIX, also known as the Advanced Computing Systems Association, is a technical professional community consisting of engineers, system administrators, scientists, and technicians dedicated toward sharing best practices and offering open access to security research.

The Internet Defense Prize is meant to honor quality research and new ideas beyond theory to produce effective change.

The first Internet Defense Prize was announced this past August, awarded to Johannes Dahse and Thorsten Holz, a pair of researchers from Ruhr-Universität Bochum in Germany, for work using static analysis to detect malicious files stored on web servers.

Facebook chief security officer Joe Sullivan added in a blog post on Wednesday that there are two main criteria to be fulfilled by future winners: "emphasis on protection and defense, and a meaningful contribution to the security of the Internet."

The submission window isn't open yet, but Facebook assured it will be soon. Winners will be announced and prizes will be awarded at USENIX's Security 2015 summit, slated to be held in Washington, D.C. next August.

In the meantime, Facebook is also open sourcing another one of its own security products.

Osquery is an intrusion detection program made up of roughly 20,000 lines of code for logging changes within operating systems focused on performance.

Facebook software engineer Mike Arpaia explained further in a separate blog post that "Osquery exposes an operating system as a high-performance relational database," allowing IT professionals to write SQL-based queries to explore these systems further.

Reps for the social network touted that based on relatively small amount of code required coupled with the fact it is being open sourced makes Osquery much more attractive and cost-efficient compared to commercial systems "in the million dollar range."

After testing in-house, Facebook also released the Osquery code and binaries to a small pool of external companies for beta testing and feedback.

Available now on Github, the service supports OSX, Ubuntu, CentOS, and many Linux distributions.

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