NOVEMBER 9, 2021 – The Navy’s Cybersecurity Program Office (PMW 130) sponsored, designed and developed one of the technical tracks at this year’s HACKtheMACHINE Unmanned event, held virtually for participants worldwide Nov. 16-19, to encourage creative “hackers” to help meet the needs of the Fleet by developing and integrating unmanned and autonomous systems at scale.
Sponsored by the Office of Naval Research (ONR), HACKtheMACHINE Unmanned is the first in a series of public-facing technology challenges designed to accelerate the U.S. Navy’s Unmanned Task Force. This challenge will forge valuable partnerships between the Navy, industry and academia to create new, high-end unmanned capabilities.
“By fostering collaboration and encouraging diversity across private and public sectors, HACKtheMACHINE Unmanned is a foundation for building a community of technologists to help solve the Navy’s most pressing digital concerns in cyber, artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) and digital engineering,” said Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. Lorin Selby.
The event will include three tracks for participants to compete in: Hack the Pilot, Detective Bot and Top Model. Each challenge falls into a different focus area – maritime cyber, data science and digital engineering, respectively – to appeal to a broad range of talents and skill sets.
PMW 130 has sponsored and developed the challenges for track two, Detective Bot, as a way to pursue AI/ML tools that can distinguish benign from malicious code.
“While some techniques have shown great promise in benign/malicious selection, the compute load of these techniques requires many graphics processing units and central processing units (CPU), running dedicated jobs in a data center or in the Cloud,” said John Armantrout, PMW 130 program manager. “We are trying to see the extent that autonomous systems are able to run benign and malicious code detection in an unmanned swarm of afloat platforms where limited compute environments — servers, CPU, storage, power — all must exist in a few racks or far from shore and disconnected from the Cloud.”
The program office is providing a dataset with thousands of malicious and benign code samples to see who can take inefficient AI/ML techniques developed with unlimited resources ashore and adapt them to efficient and effective cyber solutions on smaller afloat and autonomous platforms.
The top three teams for each track will split a $30,000 prize, totaling $90,000 for the entire competition. First place will win $15,000, second place will receive $10,000 and third place will take home $5,000.
“Ideas and solutions from past HACKtheMACHINE challenges are already at work throughout the Navy today,” said Mike Karlbom, PMW 130 technical director of AI and ML. “We’re excited for this year’s competition to see how participants will use their diverse perspectives, out-of-the-box thinking and creative approaches to solve the challenges we throw at them.”
Although HACKtheMACHINE Unnmanned contestants will be participating virtually, there will be a physical filming location in San Diego that will host Navy leaders and other industry partners over the course of the event
Although HACKtheMACHINE Unmanned contestants will be participating virtually, there will be a physical filming location in San Diego that will host Navy leaders and other industry partners over the course of the event.
Additionally at the event, PMW 130 will announce the winner of their third prize challenge in the Artificial Intelligence Applications to Autonomous Cybersecurity Challenge (AI ATAC) series, which focused on enhancing the Security Operations Center using AI/ML tools to automate the detection and prevention of advanced persistent threats and other cybersecurity campaign activity. The announcement of the winning team will take place on Wednesday, November 17.
For more information on HACKtheMACHINE Unmanned, how to register and to view the competition via live stream, please visit the event website or follow them on Twitter. Registration closes Nov. 15.
About PEO C4I
The Navy’s Program Executive Office for Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (PEO C4I) is committed to the development and acquisition of communication and technology tools that deliver affordable, necessary, integrated, and interoperable information warfare capabilities to the Fleet.
About Navy Cybersecurity Program Office (PMW 130)
The Cybersecurity Program Office provides cryptographic, network, and host-based security products combined with cyber analytic services to ensure protection of Navy, Joint, and other agency information and telecommunications systems from hostile exploitation and attack.
Story by Kara McDermott
Naval Information Warfare Systems Command (NAVWAR)