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Hackathon teams in Omaha, Colorado test cybersecurity methods during competition

Posted at 1:29 PM, Apr 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-09 14:29:02-04

There's a common misconception for the term "hackers."

"If you don't like the term ‘hackers’ you can use 'information security expert.' But hackers are not the enemy. Befriend them."

Without their help, your cyber systems could be at risk.

"There's these things called PLcs, which are program logic controllers, which control physical systems. So like electricity, water pumps, that kind of stuff."

That's why cybersecurity experts brewed up a problem for contestants to fix in what they call the 48-hour Hackathon.

"There's an immediate urgency to address this cyber physical security and so what we have done is, we organize a hackathon, where we invite teams to come up with innovative solutions."

Three teams from Omaha and 12 teams from Boulder, Colo., spent three days forming concepts to enhance security. 

"So we don't give them a prescribed expectation to solve, but we let their potential shine through their work."

Contestants then presented to a panel of experts; teams in Colorado presented by webcam.

For years, Kevin Bird's had a knack for computer engineering. He and his team had one focus.

"The bad guy doesn't need to be right every time,” he said. “They only need to be right once, and you have to be able to stop their attempts. So this type of solution would stop them from being able to access your system."

The expert’s top picks moved on to formal presentations.

From there the winner gets a $15,000 check to advance their concept ideas.