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Mo money, less problems: Facebook offers $300K bounty for making the Web safer

In a noble effort to motivate online security fighters, Facebook has upped the Internet Defense Prize ante.

The best idea for making the Internet a better, safer place will be rewarded next year with up to $300,000 — cash money. Meanwhile, the recipients of the 2014 Internet Defense Prize, Johannes Dahse and Thorsten Holz, received $50,000 (no small sum in itself).

“Some of the most promising ideas for a more secure Internet actually come from the academic world and can sometimes get lost in the mix,” explained Joe Sullivan, the social network’s Chief Security Officer, in a post to FB’s newsroom. “That’s why we created the Internet Defense Prize, an award to support research that meets two primary criteria: emphasis on protection and defense, and a meaningful contribution to the security of the Internet.”

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Interested in taking part? First and foremost, you’ll need, well, an idea. It can be abstract, it can be very specific, it can be anything. It just has to be original, and it has to help stop security vulnerabilities currently plaguing the Web.

With us so far, and inspired to make a difference? Submissions will open soon, and paper titles and abstracts are due February 16, 2015. Don’t miss the deadline, and be sure to send your complete papers by February 23.

Then comes the waiting. A lucky, motivated, inventive few will be selected for the next phase of the contest. Final papers are due June 30, 2015, and work-in-progress submissions by August 12. The award (and hefty check) will be presented to the winner or winners at the 24th USENIX Security Symposium in Washington D.C., on August 14.

The USENIX Association, a global leader in security research, will help Facebook in assessing qualifying candidates and ultimately establishing a victor. The Internet Defense Prize, as USENIX describes it, wants to recognize discoveries and concepts that “meaningfully make the Internet more secure.”

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Don’t have the tools to build the magic solution to all our online security problems? Fret not, as the goal of Facebook’s program is to “inspire researchers to focus on high-impact areas of research.” In other words, they’ll reward prevention and defense theories, not necessarily physical progresses and breakthroughs.

Bottom line, it can’t hurt to try out, right? If you agree, keep an eye on the submission section of the Defense Prize’s website.