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UNG and Cyber 2.0 hosting cyber challenge with possible $100K prize

USA Hacker Challenge preview
UNG and Cyber 2.0 are hosting the USA Hackers Challenge on Feb. 14 at Georgia Tech Research Institute. Competitors will have an opportunity to win $100,000 if they can be the first to complete a daunting cybersecurity task.

University of North Georgia (UNG) students and others from the college, military and corporate worlds have an opportunity to win $100,000 if they can be the first to complete a daunting cybersecurity task.

UNG is teaming up with Israeli security company Cyber 2.0 and Conexx: America Israel Business Connector for the USA Hackers Challenge on Feb. 14 at Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI). Those competing must be present in person. Competitors may register at the USA Hackers Challenge website. No registration fee is required.

Cyber 2.0 will provide competitors with the administrator password and Internet Protocol addresses for a target network. While that's usually enough to compromise a network, Cyber 2.0 believes competitors still won't be able to access and copy a file from the server. The company says most people are willing to accept their networks being 95 to 99 percent secure, while Cyber 2.0 says it can offer "total defense against the spread of cyber attacks."

If a competitor can access and copy a confidential file from the server, he or she will win $100,000. Cyber 2.0 also will be able to use that information to improve its security service.

But it is a tough task. No one claimed the prize during a similar competition held by Cyber 2.0 in Israel.

"They're actually testing this against some of the best hackers in Israel, some of the best hackers in the U.S.," said Dr. Bryson Payne, professor of computer science and director of the UNG Center for Cyber Operations Education. "And so far the system has held up."

Payne said the event will be interesting to UNG students learning ethical hacking and penetration testing in their courses.

"To be able to apply the skills our students are learning in a realistic business network environment will be really important," he said.

The competition will be capped at 225 entrants. While the event is open to those outside universities, the challenge is being advertised mainly to the some 250 National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education, including UNG.

Atlanta Hackers Challenge

NYU student Nick Gregory won Atlanta Cyber Challenge hosted by UNG online from Oct. 10-12. UNG's Bryson Payne, Ryan Duff from Point 3 Security, UNG President Bonita Jacobs, and DataPath's John Chesser made a virtual check presentation Nov. 1 to Gregory for the $10,000 prize.

The event will run from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 14. It will include some short presentations and opportunities for competitors and sponsoring faculty to meet with vendors to learn more about cutting-edge cybersecurity approaches.

The USA Hackers Challenge comes on the heels of UNG hosting the Atlanta Cyber Challenge online from Oct. 10-12. New York University student Nick Gregory won the $10,000 top prize in the contest sponsored by Point 3 Security and DataPath. UNG President Bonita Jacobs, Payne and representatives from Point 3 and DataPath made a virtual check presentation to Gregory on Nov. 1.

UNG launched a bachelor's degree in cybersecurity this fall and is part of a variety of efforts to help meet the job needs of the cyber market.

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