Conroy uses Black Hat carrot on students

Conroy uses Black Hat carrot on students

Summary: The government, Telstra and Australian universities have teamed up to create a security competition that pits students against each other in a bid to raise the profile of security issues.


The government, Telstra and Australian universities have teamed up to create a security competition that pits students against each other in a bid to raise the profile of security issues.

Security researcher Barnaby Jack demonstrates how he bypassed the security of two ATMs.
(Credit: Declan McCullagh/CNET)

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said that the challenge will lob problems to undergraduates in a virtual network. It will be held over a 24-hour period between 3 April and 4 April, hosted by the universities. Undergraduates studying computer science or other related degrees can register a team with their university.

The winners of the challenge will score a trip to the 2012 Black Hat Conference in Las Vegas, US, in July this year.

Black Hat is one of the most high-profile events on the cybersecurity calendar, where information security professionals from businesses, government and research groups get together for multiple practical sessions, demonstrating possible exploits to keep everyone on their toes.

In 2010, an exploit was shown that forced an ATM to spit out cash on the Black Hat stage. Last year, a researcher showed how to open and start a car remotely by infiltrating its mobile-based security system.

The government decided to run the challenge, dubbed the 2012 Cyber Defence University Challenge, in answer to a lack of cybersecurity awareness, especially in universities, noted by industry in consultation for the creation of the government's Cyber White Paper. The whitepaper will be released later this year.

"The need for greater awareness of cybersecurity issues and for more high-skilled ICT graduates were two of the key themes to emerge from the public engagement process associated with the government's Cyber White Paper, due for release later this year," Conroy said in a statement.

Topics: Government, Government AU, Security

Suzanne Tindal

About Suzanne Tindal

Suzanne Tindal cut her teeth at as the site's telecommunications reporter, a role that saw her break some of the biggest stories associated with the National Broadband Network process. She then turned her attention to all matters in government and corporate ICT circles. Now she's taking on the whole gamut as news editor for the site.

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  • I'm just sick of this crap. Now we have the government paying to train hackers. Why don't we just start up a branch of government dedicated to training murderers? Now that I'd like to see!!!!!
    • Haha! Not the sharpest knife in the draw are you? And maybe the murderers could stab the hackers in the face thus making the 'interwebs' a safer place...
    • Actually, it's the other way around. By teaching someone how to break into something, you're also teaching them how to protect against such attacks.

      Think of it this way, if you will. As a former volunteer firefighter, I was taught various methods on how to start a fire, with a good chance for that fire to spread into a bushfire/grassfire/whatever. WHY was I taught this? So I could identify a point of ignition by sight and/or smell, and then stand a reasonable chance of identifying what started the fire.

      Not to mention that this is being done in a controlled environment, with the stated goal to improve security.
    • The (federal) government does dedicate a department to learning how to defeat, and often kill people - the Department of Defence.
      Additionally they sponsor a second group that are "trained killers" called the Australian Federal Police.
      Both of these groups are trained to kill, and also trained not to kill unecessarily.
      I doubt that we woudl be safer wihtout them.

      I would also like to point out that the universities are doing the training much as they have done in the past.
      The government is now setting up targets and offering a prize that is only really of interest to those who were already interested in the it security field.
  • Hey Thejman may have a point. Wouldn't the world be safer if only the bad guys knew how to do evil?
  • @psandy @thejman

    How can you expect to effectively combat something if you don’t first understand it?
    To protect the sheep you gotta catch the wolf, and it takes a wolf to catch a wolf.