Microsoft offers big money prize for foiling hackers

August 3, 2011
The Microsoft booth is seen during the 2011 International Consumer Electronics Show
The Microsoft booth is seen during the 2011 International Consumer Electronics Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center, January 2011. Microsoft on Wednesday kicked off a contest aimed at turning the tables on hackers by offering big money prizes for innovative tactics to foil cyber attacks.

Microsoft on Wednesday kicked off a contest aimed at turning the tables on hackers by offering big money prizes for innovative tactics to foil cyber attacks.

The US software titan launched the premier BlueHat Prize competition at a major Black Hat computer security conference in Las Vegas.

"As the risk of criminal attacks on private and government computer systems continues to increase, Microsoft recognizes the need to stimulate research in the area of defensive computer security technology," said Microsoft Trustworthy Computer Group general manager Matt Thomlinson.

"Our interest is to promote a focus on developing innovative solutions rather than discovering individual issues," he continued.

Microsoft opted to offer prizes for defending against entire types of cyber attacks instead of simple paying "bounties" to those that discover individual computer bugs.

BlueHat promised more than $250,000 dollars in cash and other prizes to software savants at young as 14 years old. The theme for the first year of the contest was preventing hacks exploiting computer memory vulnerabilities.

Microsoft said it hoped the contest would inspire contributions from researchers, security professionals, and even young hackers.

"Some of the value in this prize is beyond money; it is inspiring not just the current generation but the next generation," said Microsoft lead security strategist Katie Moussouris.

"We have found that some of our best defenders come from the opposite side of the security coin," she added.

BlueHat Prize entries will be evaluated by an internal panel of judges at Microsoft, with $200,000 going to the top submission and $50,000 awarded to the second place finisher.

The third-place prize will be a subscription to Microsoft services worth $10,000.

BlueHat winners will be revealed at the Black Hat gathering in Las Vegas next year. Information about the contest was available online at

Explore further: Microsoft: New security tech products

Related Stories

Microsoft fixes browser flaw used in Google breach

January 21, 2010

(AP) -- Microsoft Corp. took the unsual step of issuing an unscheduled fix Thursday for security holes in its Internet Explorer browser that played a role in the recent computer attacks that led Google to threaten to leave ...

Microsoft probing new hole in IE security

February 3, 2010

Fresh from patching an Internet Explorer (IE) flaw exploited in cyberattacks on Google and other firms, Microsoft is looking into a newly exposed vulnerability in the browser software.

Recommended for you

On soft ground? Tread lightly to stay fast

October 8, 2015

These findings, reported today, Friday 9th October, in the journal Bioinspiration & Biomechanics, offer a new insight into how animals respond to different terrain, and how robots can learn from them.

University team's robot inspired by jumping spider

October 8, 2015

Special insights and observations about how animals move, handle danger and preserve energy are not only interesting but valuable to scientists in the field of robotics. One such contribution of animal-like robotic movement ...

AI machine achieves IQ test score of young child

October 6, 2015

Some people might find it enough reason to worry; others, enough reason to be upbeat about what we can achieve in computer science; all await the next chapters in artificial intelligence to see what more a machine can do ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

3 / 5 (2) Aug 03, 2011
Foil rather than code better? Typical M.S. B.S.
2.5 / 5 (4) Aug 03, 2011
Such an offer...from Microsnot, the OWNER of D largest anti-exploit firms on earth. I mean...where do I begin: their stock is as dead N D water as a beached whale; The Zune, shucks, it is easier to find an honest politician in HELL, than it is to find someone who owns a freakin', frackin' Zune! Microsnot makes D crappy software, always has, then N D late 1990's & early 2000's buys all D big companies making protective software-MEGA-conflict of interest. They have been flogged 4 AntiTrust foolishness N every western marketplace on earth. They gave D SOURCE CODE 4 WIndows 2 D Chinese government-heck, D entire OS may B a fornicating zombie waitin 2 spill its guts 4 chairman Mao at D end of every day: nearly every alleged new invention out of Redmond turns N 2 vaporware with jus enough reality 2 kill competition, I guess they still pay a dividend, & D prize money 4 Dis competition IS 2 SMALL/LOW! M'Snot is essentially beggin D public 2 save it from it's self!
1 / 5 (2) Aug 03, 2011
I doubt very much that China has the Windows source code. And even if they do it's from reverse engineering, not MS giving it away. They guard their code, just like every other tech company. Open Source is obviously excluded. Hopefully this money will be enough for a few younger kids to come up with some good ideas, but for the true criminals it's much more lucrative to remain BlackHat. Also, I love how people mock MS all the time but never mention how the Xbox has changed the company. With the advent of the 360 they started beating out Sony. It's hard to get good ideas out quickly with a company so large. Anyway, this isn't a defense of MS, just my thoughts.
3 / 5 (4) Aug 03, 2011
I own a Zune. It's fantastic.
1 / 5 (1) Aug 03, 2011
I doubt very much that China has the Windows source code.

You are dearly miss-informed here: "Microsoft signed an agreement on source code recording with Chinese government on January 28, according to which the government and appointed units could, under Microsoft authorization, to review the source code of the Windows operating system..." This was back in 2003! Yet here you are RUNNING TO Microsnot's sordid rescue. Shame on you for being so utterly misinformed and even if they had NOT given away the source code, they own the firms who are supposed to fix the exploit problems! Now they are offering CHICKEN FEED for a problem that is GLOBAL..yeah, go fix their problems, solve all the horrible missteps they have taken that has led the industry in and into vulnerability and exploitation.
Today Billie Gates sold 5 million shares of Microslop: Better sell it while its is still around and legal!
3 / 5 (2) Aug 03, 2011
lol @ voting my comment a 1 because I own a Zune.
5 / 5 (2) Aug 04, 2011
Foil rather than code better? Typical M.S. B.S.

If thats the case then it not just MS as all major players are now getting attacked. Apple, Andriod included. At least they are trying to do something about it instead of ignore it.
4.2 / 5 (5) Aug 04, 2011
All you anti MS people forget one thing, Today there are other firms doing what they did and even worse and not getting the bad press MS did. Look at what apple and google are up to these days, They're todays big bad guys, not MS. I'm sure though it eventually catch up with todays players and bite them in the back. After all, Apple is the dark force and jobs is the evil emperor.
not rated yet Aug 04, 2011
Pffft. Cheapie prizes can't touch the value of an unknown exploit.
5 / 5 (1) Aug 04, 2011
Corporations took over all the fanatics that had nothing to invest their life in after religions became unpopular.
not rated yet Aug 06, 2011
They would serve us better if they were offering money for hacker scalps.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.