US Air Force launches $50,000 satellite hacking challenge

Hack-a-Sat challenge will kick off on 22 May and is open to ethical hackers worldwide

The US Air Force is offering $50,000 to help shore up its satellite cyber security as part of an online challenge called Hack-A-Sat.

The event, which kicks off on 22 May with a final round set for August, has been developed in partnership with the US Defense Digital Service, the digital arm of the Department of Defense.

Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the hackathon has been moved entirely online and aims to help improve cyber security safeguards ahead of the Pentagon's rollout of a satellite constellation network later this year.

The Hack-A-Sat challenge is open to hackers around the world and will begin with a 48-hour 'Capture the Flag' first-round. Participants will be given a set of challenges in one of several categories on a Jeopardy-style board. The first team to solve a challenge has the ability to unlock the next challenge in any given category, with each solved challenge resulting in the competitor retrieving a 'flag'. 'Redemption' of this flag by another team results in points being awarded to the challenger. 

The final will be contested from 7 to 9 August where the top three constants will have the chance to attempt to hack a virtualized satellite and win $50,000, with $30,000 awarded to second and $20,000 for third.

"The democratization of space has opened up a new frontier for exploration and innovation," the Hack-A-Sat website reads. "But with this opportunity, new cyber security vulnerabilities are also being created. One human can design, build and launch a satellite, adhering to very few standards and security protocols. So how can we achieve safe, reliable and trustworthy operations to truly realize the promise of space? ...by hacking a satellite."

The event takes place at the virtual Aerospace Village at DEFCON, which will also host workshops for satellite hacking and avionics.

Featured Resources

Humility in AI: Building trustworthy and ethical AI systems

How humble AI can help safeguard your business

Download now

Future of video conferencing

Optimising video conferencing features to achieve business goals

Download now

Leadership compass: Privileged Access Management

Securing privileged accounts in a high-risk environment

Download now

Why you need to include the cloud in your disaster recovery plan

Preserving data for business success

Download now

Most Popular

80% of cyber professionals say the Computer Misuse Act is working against them
Security

80% of cyber professionals say the Computer Misuse Act is working against them

20 Nov 2020
Cisco acquires container security startup Banzai Cloud
Security

Cisco acquires container security startup Banzai Cloud

18 Nov 2020
46 million Animal Jam accounts leaked after comms software breach
Security

46 million Animal Jam accounts leaked after comms software breach

13 Nov 2020