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"Yahoo! Open Hack Conference" and similar corporate sponsored events..

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  • "Yahoo! Open Hack Conference" and similar corporate sponsored events..

    I see these kinds of contests often enough, and after seeing this one, I had some thoughts:
    URL1: Yahoo Open Hack Comes to NYC (Allen Stern on October 3rd, 2009)

    Originally posted by url1
    ...engineers designed an event to see what sort of interesting and innovative applications people would build using Yahoo! tools and technologies over a 24-hour period....
    url2: Vista, Leopard, Linux to compete in hack contest (Tom Espiner on February 7, 2008 7:34 AM PST)

    Originally posted by url2
    [At] ... the CanSecWest Vancouver 2008 security conference, the competition is a repeat of the "PWN to Own" contest at CanSecWest in 2007, when security researchers competed to win a MacBook Pro and $10,000....
    url3: Yahoo! Hack-U Fall 2009

    Originally posted by url3
    ...University Hack Day competition—a day-long festival of coding, camaraderie, demos, awards, food, music and jollity...
    No rules or limitations - just show up and hack for your opportunity to win cool prizes, a spot in the gallery, street cred and the chance to represent your school at the University Hack Showdown in California. ...
    url4: FAQ including answers to "Apple Design Awards" contest (June 8-12, 2009)

    url5: Student Programmers Square Off, Gain Real World Experience in Microsoft Competition (REDMOND, Wash., July 23, 2001)

    If you have been to conferences where vendors claim their products are secure, you may have witnessed or heard about contests that award money to people that are able to defeat their security. Other contests encourage programmers of hardware developers to create something new under certain restrictions (like developer kit, issue to solve, or time.) How much of these kinds of events are promotional for the sake of getting their own company name into the news, and how much is intended to be an interest without expectation for reward?

    In the cases of developers coding over a short period, could this be like a massive brainstorming session looking for new ideas? Give the winner $10,000 and rules that require them to give up Intellectual Property rights for their new idea if they win, and then turn around and sell a product that provides something similar.

    What are you thoughts on these contests? Do you see them as scams, where the winners in defeating hardware and software "security" as seldom getting their prizes? What about coders and hardware engineers? Do you think their ideas are being bought from them on the cheap -- even the losers, only to be used to make new products based on the ideas presented in the contest?

    Pulling an example of how things can go wrong from 2002:
    url6: $100K hacking contest ends in free-for-all (Matt Loney, ZDNet News: Jun 3, 2002 3:50:00 PM)
    Originally posted by url6
    What do you do when you enter a hacking competition only to discover that the target server is running a cut-down operating system running with almost all services switched off so that it does not resemble a "real-world situation"?

    Simple. You hack the competition itself.


    The first person to do achieve the goal was promised $100,000 (£70,000), and the organizers promised that if there was no outright winner, the judges could award five prizes of $10,000 to "outstanding competitors" based on the methodology and level of hacking used.

    One month on, there is no outright winner, the amount being offered to outstanding competitors has shrunk to $1,250 each
    A big hoax?
    This revelation may have come too late to dispel concerns. Wong, for instance, is also troubled by the shrinking prize money. "The original prize was indeed stated as $10,000 (for each outstanding competitor)," he said.
    What do you think of contests like this from the corporate world over skills from the developer, engineering, and "cracking" or countermeasures-to-defense? (Wordsmithing is fun!)
    Last edited by TheCotMan; October 4, 2009, 00:43.