Rome Lab to take part in hacking challenge


Rome Lab is among several U.S. Air Force and Department of Defense (DoD) entities taking part in an event inviting the global security research community to hone space domain hacking skills, in an effort geared to help the military build more secure systems.

The Department of the Air Force and DoD’s Defense Digital Service on Friday through Sunday will premiere the Space Security Challenge 2020, a mix of virtual workshops and prize challenges related to securing space systems; it includes a live Capture-The-Flag (CTF) style satellite hacking competition dubbed “Hack-A-Sat.”

Rome Lab is formally called the Air Force Research Laboratory Information Directorate.

“We are excited about this year’s Hack-a-Sat Challenge at DEF CON Safe Mode,” said Dr. Will Roper, the U.S. Air Force and Space Force acquisition chief. “Space is an increasingly important contributor to global economies and security. Letting experts hack an orbiting satellite will teach us how to build more secure systems in the future.”

The virtual workshops are intended to support and generate burgeoning interest across the aerospace security domain, while the CTF competition will challenge some of the world’s most skilled hacking teams to test their skills at hacking a government satellite system, said an Air Force announcement.

During a CTF Qualification Event in May, over 2,000 teams comprised of over 6,000 individuals earned points based on their accuracy and speed solving binary challenges, the announcement said. Eight of the most talented teams have been invited to the Hack-A-Sat final event where they will be challenged to reverse-engineer and operate satellite systems in order to earn “flags,” or binary codes.

Additionally, several aerospace cyber security virtualized workshops and educational opportunities are geared to improve security, safety and resilience of space systems through virtual “hands-on” learning. By enabling this type of collaboration, the DoD Defense Digital Service and the Air Force intend to learn from the research community and change how space systems are acquired, secured and integrated, added the announcement.

Spectators and researchers seeking to learn more about the Hack-A-Sat contest and the challenges of cybersecurity in space are invited to visit online.

The CTF competition and virtual workshops are meant to be educational and revelatory, said the announcement, adding the DoD does not condone hacking for malicious gain.


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