Facebook announces Internet Defense Prize

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Facebook is working to make the Internet a more secure place. The company announced Thursday at the USENIX Security Symposium in San Diego the creation of the Internet Defense Prize — an award recognizing superior quality research that combines a working prototype with great contributions to securing the Internet.

Facebook and USENIX crowned the first winners today. Johannes Dahse and Thorsten Holz, two researchers from Ruhr-Universität Bochum in Germany, were awarded $50,000 for their paper, “Static Detection of Second-Order Vulnerabilities in Web Applications.”

John “Four” Flynn, a security engineering manager at Facebook, discussed the Internet Defense Prize in a blog post:

Recently we started asking ourselves how we could do more to make the web secure and have a greater impact. One of the biggest hurdles we identified was that offensive security work (hacking into this or that) and theoretical academic research often get more recognition than defensive work that prevents vulnerabilities and reduces the effectiveness of attacks. We decided to focus on creating greater opportunities and incentives for researchers to produce work that actually protects people.

Casey Henderson, Executive Director of the USENIX Association, commented on the prize:

USENIX is thrilled to collaborate with Facebook on this significant award, which shines a light on the importance of securing the Internet by identifying critical vulnerabilities and preventing their exploitation. We thank Facebook for supporting the researchers who publish at the USENIX Security Symposium so that they can continue their crucial work.

Ben Ransford, University of Washington, USENIX Security ’14 Awards Committee Chair also praised Facebook for its efforts:

Despite researchers’ best intentions, too many research projects are abandoned in the prototype phase before they have a chance to make an impact outside academic circles. This award is meant to help bring a promising research project much closer to a large number of people who can benefit from it, and it provides an extra incentive for researchers to think about the real-world applicability of their work.  In partnering with USENIX, the most progressive and forward-looking organization of computer scientists, Facebook is making a clear statement on behalf of Internet users: cutting-edge security and privacy research is critical to the Internet’s success.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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