The Air Force is again holding its annual “Space Security Challenge” where they invite you to hack into a satellite to test their cybersecurity measures. There are actually two events. In the first one, $150,000 is up for grabs in ten prizes and the final event offers a $100,000 purse divided among the three top participants (first place takes $50,000).
Before you get too excited, you or your team has to first qualify online. The qualification event will be over two days starting May 22. The qualifying event is set up a bit like the TV show Jeopardy. There is a board with categories. When a team solves a challenge in a category it receives a flag that is worth points as well as getting to unlock the next challenge. Once a challenge is unlocked however, any team could potentially work on it. There are more rules, but that’s the gist of it. At the end of the event, the judges will contact the top 10 teams who will then each have to submit a technical paper.
One interesting aspect of the value of the flags is that they depend on how many people solve them. More difficult challenges presumably will have fewer flags claimed and their flags will be worth more. So you don’t know how much a flag is worth until after the event is over.
If you qualify you’ll have three weeks to submit your technical paper. It will need to describe your solution to at least five challenges you solved during the event.
The final event will be a DEF CON 28 — if there is a DEF CON this year., or it could be could be online if DEF CON doesn’t materialize physically. It will consist of two parts, of which hacking into a FlatSat in a simulated space environment is the first. If a team is successful at that, they will be eligible for the on-orbit challenge.
Again, to get a payout, you also have to submit a technical paper that is acceptable. There are other requirements. You can be a team of one if you like, but your team leader and the point-of-contact person must be a US citizen and speak English. The team leader can also be the point-of-contact person. If you are under 18 you will need parental consent.
There are also some disqualifying rules. You can’t attack other players. You have to respect open source rules. You can’t hack the infrastructure used to run the contest.
If you are interested in participating, you have until May 24 to register, but since the event starts on May 22, we’d suggest you do so well before then.