$100,000 Hacker Challenge Goes Unclaimed at Tech
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$100,000 Hacker Challenge Goes Unclaimed at Tech

Cyber 2.0, an Israeli cybersecurity company with offices in Atlanta, offered a cash prize to anyone who could access a single file from its protected server.

Nearly 2 million attempts to penetrate the Cyber 2.0 server and copy one file failed as a result of their chaos-theory-based system.
Nearly 2 million attempts to penetrate the Cyber 2.0 server and copy one file failed as a result of their chaos-theory-based system.

The stakes were high for cracking into Cyber 2.0’s security systems. The Israeli cybersecurity company with offices in Atlanta offered a $100,000 prize for anyone who could access a single file from its protected server.

This was the second time the company challenged hackers to try and penetrate its system. The last time was in June in Israel with a $30,000 prize. The latest contest Feb. 14 took place at Georgia Tech Research Institute. It kicked off at 9 a.m. with an introduction to Cyber 2.0’s revolutionary technology from Chief Technology Officer and Founder Erez Kaplan.

He explained that it was based on the chaos theory of mathematics, utilizing systems in which predicting long-term development is impossible. He also encouraged those in attendance to ask him questions that might give them a leg up come competition time.

“We reinvented cybersecurity by creating the chaos mechanism that scrambles everything,” he told the AJT. “The different concept with us beside that is that the things responsible for defense are the surrounding computers.”

The event on Valentine’s Day was open to hackers from different fields: from commercial, to student, to military and everything in between. A total of 61 hackers participated in the six-hour contest. And while many in the room were students, there were others from diverse backgrounds.

Erez Kaplan laughs as he realizes hackers attacked his personal computer in an attempt to get a leg up.

Kaplan said that although he thought it unlikely that anyone would be able to breach Cyber 2.0’s security, he was still feeling the nerves early in the day.

“I’m divided into two: I’m confident, but my heart beats like crazy,” Kaplan said. “We know that it’s impossible to hack it, … currently no one is doing anything unexpected. They’re going through standard attack routes.”

Kaplan did note that one competitor tried a unique approach, hacking into his personal computer in search of the file. “It’s not there, but I closed it because I don’t want them to hack it,” he said.

Vice President of Sales Sneer Rozenfeld explained that his confidence in Cyber 2.0 was higher than ever.

“I’m $100,000 confident. I wouldn’t put it out there if I wasn’t,” he said.

Alongside the hacking, there were also guest speakers lined up, covering a variety of topics from developing technologies in Atlanta to car hacking.

When asked why Cyber 2.0 chose Atlanta for its first international challenge and business location, Rozenfeld said that when they were initially looking to break into the U.S. market they didn’t know where to start.

“There is a big conference in Washington, D.C., called SelectUSA,” he said. “You meet delegates from all the states telling you, ‘come over and bring your business to our state.’”

Sima Amir, Georgia’s managing director of relations with Israel, came to Cyber 2.0’s office and encouraged them to pay attention to the Georgia booth at SelectUSA.

“We met with so many delegates from all different states, and all of them were saying, ‘come to our place, or our place,’” Rozenfeld said. “We were so confused.”

Invitations to Atlanta’s Cyber Week in October from CyberHub Summit CEO Karin Zalcberg and Conexx – the America Israel Business Connector – first got Cyber 2.0 in the state, and from there, they never looked back.

“We fell in love with the place; you call it Southern hospitality,” Rozenfeld said. “We saw great opportunity here and great people here and decided this would be the best place to start U.S. operations.”

Dr. Bryson Payne, a professor of computer science at the University of North Georgia, asked Cyber 2.0 to bring the same challenge they’d previously tried in Israel to Atlanta.

Dr. Bryson Payne from the University of North Georgia tries his hand at the hacking challenge.

“Cyber 2.0 has 100 percent total protection for those files and they are putting their money where their mouth is,” he said.

Payne, who had students participating in the challenge, noted that getting access to the file would be a big ask.

“My students will have quite a challenge, as will the military and corporate hackers,” Payne said. “If they’re able to break through, not only do they get a $100,000 check, but Cyber 2.0 learns something that could help them improve their security.”

While no one was able to crack the server’s protection, the competitors amassed an impressive 1,956,495 attacks on the network in the six-hour window.

And while Payne was not necessarily expecting anyone to retrieve the file that day, he did share some of the importance of bringing events like this to Georgia.

“It’s important to fire people up about cybersecurity jobs,” he said. “We need 11,500 more people in cyber in the state of Georgia, … so that we can continue to protect our country and our families from cyber attacks.”

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