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World’s Largest Computer Hacking Contest Happening at UCSB

UC Santa Barbara is playing host to the world’s largest gathering of computer hackers for a one day, all out war in Cyber Space.

More than 1,300 students on 123 teams from 40 countries competed against each other in a security challenge called “International Capture the Flag.”

This year’s theme: Nuclear Cyber-Warfare

“It’s very real world,” said professor Giovanni Vigna. “The theme is inspired by true events. The type of vulnerabilities and techniques that they use in order to find these vulnerabilities are used everyday by pro hackers.”

Teams must develop their own (fictional) nuclear weapon program while sustaining cyber attacks that are trying to block or hinder the program.

Graduate students from UCSB came up the game and are the ones managing the moves turned in by teams from all parts of the globe.

“It’s time consuming,” graduate student Adam Doupe said. “We’ve basically spent the last two to three weeks dedicated to nothing but this and over he last two days we’ve had two to three hours of sleep a night.”

No time for sleep! The contest ran from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, with these tired but determined UCSB grad students handling much of the load.

The winner of this worldwide hacking event takes home a $1,024 prize plus international bragging rights.

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