Team Shellphish nets $750,000 win at Cyber Grand Challenge

Shellphish pitted their skills against cyber-security experts from across the country to become one of the top teams in the 2016 Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Cyber Grand Challenge (CGC). The team of UCSB computer science graduate students emerged third overall, taking $750,000 in addition to the $750,000 cash prize they won for qualifying for the finals in Las Vegas.

“The Shellphish team did great considering that it was the only academic team in the top-three positions,” said faculty advisor and UCSB Computer Science Professor Giovanni Vigna. The top two teams, ForAllSecure and TechX, have academic origins but have spent years in industry.

“This recognition represents a major advance in automated analysis of software and automated cyber defense, said Ambuj Singh, UCSB Computer Science Department Chair and Professor. “The ability to detect and patch software vulnerabilities is extremely important for businesses and our society at large. At the same time, this competition provides an important venue for training our students in new emerging scientific domains.”

Boasting some of the youngest architects in the challenge, UCSB’s Shellphish team includes Team Captain Yan Shoshitaishvili, Antonio Bianchi, Kevin Borgolte, Jacopo Corbetta, Francesco Disperati, Andrew Dutcher (undergrad student), John Grosen (high-school student, now graduated), Aravind Machiry, Chris Salls, Nick Stephens, and Ruoyu "Fish" Wang. 

Added Vigna, "For the Shellphish team, participating as a finalist in the Cyber Grand Challenge is a great achievement. We are proud to share this achievement with the six other amazing teams from top universities and companies whose sole focus is on vulnerability analysis."

Victory did not come easily however, and Shellphish almost didn’t compete this year. The road to Vegas was plagued with fits and starts, making this year's CGC win especially significant. Read the full story here.

Photo Credit: DARPA
UCSB Shellphish at 2016 DARPA Cyber Grand Challenge