For many years DARPA has been running contests to develop self-driving vehicles, next gen combat vehicles, and robots, all of which may play a big role in the future of defense. DARPA also understands that, as human reliance on the cyberspace grows, it’ll need ways to protect sensitive data against cyber attacks and exploits. To kickstart the development of next gen cyber defense, DARPA is holding the Cyber Grand Challenge.

The goal of the challenge is create an automated system that can locate and patch a software that’s been provided by the organizers by itself. The software will be built on an operating system called DECREE — standing for DARPA Experimental Cybersecurity Research Evaluation Environment — which is a simple operating system that shares no commonality with real-world operating systems to ensure secure testing environment, according to the Department of Defense.

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As for the events themselves, the qualifying rounds for the contest began today according to The Verge, with finalists competing for the top prize of $2,000,000 in March next year.

DARPA isn’t the only US agency that is investigating automated cyber defenses. Another agency called IARPA is hoping to develop CAUSE, a program that could potentially predict cyber attacks.