Company Throws Down Gauntlet for Hackers

Wibu challenges hackers to take their best shot and win $40,000.

Wibu-Systems USA is challenging hackers around the globe to take their best shot at cracking their encryption technology.

Its a winner-take-all contest, and the prize is $40,000. It is slated to begin at 6 p.m. EST Jan. 31 and end at 5:59 p.m. EST March 14—or when someone defeats CodeMeter, Wibus dongle-based anti-piracy tool, and shows the company how it was done.

For his part, John Poulson, Wibus vice president of business development, said he wasnt concerned.

"The first guy to present us with a viable solution will win the entire prize," he said. "Were pretty confident."

Company officials held a similar competition in 2001, when they dared hackers to crack WIBU-KEY, a hardware-based copy protection and management system. Back then, the prize was $4,000, and no one was able to beat Wibus technology. This time, company officials have upped the stakes. As Poulson put it, it is worth $40,000 to find out if the company missed anything while developing CodeMeter.

"If there is somebody out there who is able to find a hole we dont think exists, we want to know about it," he said.

Contests such as these bring low-cost testing for companies, said Rick Fleming, executive vice president of Security & Risk Management Consulting for San Antonio-based Digital Defense.

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But even if no one wins the competition, it doesnt necessarily mean the product is truly unbeatable, he said. He said that encryption is often mathematically complex, and can take months or even years to break. Users can be confident, however, that the product is secure enough to use if no one defeats it during the roughly six-week contest.

"If theres any gross errors in their program or their system, it should show up," Fleming said.

Poulson acknowledged that the company wants to promote its brand through the contest, but added that the challenge is also a way for Wibu to ensure it is living up to its claim of providing effective security solutions.

Registration for the contest will begin in mid-January at the Macworld Expo in San Francisco, and contestants will also be able to register at Wibus Web site.

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