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American Idol for Security Geeks 101

Ant writes to tell us has an article touting the latest "reality show" idea from the Georgia Tech College of Computing, Information Security Center, and Graphics, Visualization and Usability Center. The "Tiger Team" competition promises to be an "American Idol for security geeks." Students "prep, sweat and show their stuff while a panel of critics decides their fates. But unlike the popular 'reality' TV show, judges aren't determining who can best carry a tune. Instead they weigh students' ideas for making information security more user-friendly, with $50,000 -- enough cash to fund a project for 12 months -- hanging in the balance."
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American Idol for Security Geeks

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Can you even get ONE developer of any cred for that?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      sure, they're called grad students
    • by caffeinemessiah ( 918089 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @07:22PM (#14968162) Journal
      As a previous commentor already said, they're called grad students. The point is to come up with innovative technologies, not industry-strength products. Once you have an innovative idea, you can put it up on SF or hand it to an army of corporate coders who will do their UML modeling, unit testing, and the whole shabang.

      At 69 cents for the 'good' Ramen (Maruchian), $50K would buy 72463 grad student meals. That's enough to feed 66 grad students 3 meals a day for a year!!! SO--YES.

      • Are found outside the US, but here's a rough yearly breakdown for the cheapest in the US:

        Rent: $3600 (utilities included)
        Food: $1200
        Tuition and Fees: $5000

        So for a round $10K a year, you get your basic Grad Student(TM). Pay them $50K and you will get a whole lot more than that. It has been my experience that there's a lot of distance from the bottom of the grad student pile to the top. Top students can accomplish two orders of magnitude more, and you don't have to pay them a whole lot, just give them

        • Rent : $300 pm
          In a safe neighborhood? You dont want your programmer murdered or mugged before the project is over.

          Food : $1200 pm
          What? mac n Cheese? What about a balanced diet? Do you even care about this person you are paying???

          Please use realistic figures that someone can actually live by. 4 years ago, you could not live with that amount of cash in Los Angeles. How about now?
          • holy christ... $1200/mo in food isn't enough for one person? or just not enough for the average slashdotter?
            what does that break down to? $40/day?
            where do YOU do your grocery shopping? steakhouses?
            • He meant $1200/year which is $100/month. That's really not much to live on...even if you don't dine out at all. I'm a poor college student and last month I spent $89.20 eating out and $100.72 on groceries...and that doesn't even include beer. :) You might be able to get away with $300/month rent living in a used trailer in a trailer park.
          • I actually moved to the Philippines to conserve expenses and maximize the amount of investment cap I have to put into projects. I couldn't live on that here , much less in the US.

            $50k buys you a few months for a small team. I know this because I have been to 4 countries recruiting them.

            Nevermind your start up and legal expenses. I'm sorry folks, but true innovation is just too damn expensive to be done domestically. $50k and a plane ticket to Malaysia I'd have believed it.

            Think about your start up costs, an
        • Tuition and fees... $5k??? Where the hell do you goto school? If it's a public school out of state grad tuition will likely run them $15k/year. Private school, maybe as low as $20-25k (my masters was $950/credit). In state grad tuition (plus fees, books, etc) at a public school might be less than $10k/year.

          Food is more likely a bare minimum of $200/month, likely more, I know I spend more per month on that. More realistic housing depends where you live, and more importantly how many people you live
      • Holy hell, where do you live? Maruchan ramen is about 16c a package last I checked (or do you mean the ones in the styrofoam cups?). Maybe 20c if we've had a price hike, which I wouldn't doubt. At which point you're still talking a quarter million packages, and I'd bet you could get a bulk rate discount.

        Of course, you'd quicky die of a sodium overdose (and an everything else underdose), but there you go. But a grad student living off of nothing but Ramen isn't going to be very productive - I'm thinkin

        • Chicago :( Yeah the ones in Styrofoam run up about 69 cents, although with specials you could get them for like 40 cents. I tried Nissin once and they were absolutely terrible. And calling Ramen terrible must REALLY mean something. What's sad is that your post made me realize that I need to buy vitamin D supplements... Oh well, time to crack open a warm Maruchan.
      • I got it for $0.08 once.
    • I'm more worried that it might attract the same sort of crackpots, attention seekers and people who quite obviously shouldn't be doing this type of work (see William Hung or any of the first shows of any season), and not knowing any better people might follow their advice from the show. ala if you have to pick a new password every month, be sure to use something very familiar to you plus a number you can increment. like jimbo1205 for your december 05 password. or use magnets to hold your important bac
    • "And first up folks......The OPENBSD TEAM!"
    • You can in India yes.. however in Europe or North America that 50k would run out fast..
  • I wonder when the networks will get it through their thick skulls that nobody wants any more reality TV. It's the lowest cost way of dumping out several hours of content sure, but what's the use of it when so many people loathe it?

    Taking a leaf from the RIAA/MPAA book of customer relations, perhaps?
    • I'd watch this, it seems atleast slighty more intelligent than a handfull of non reality shows. I dont understand why people crap on reality TV so much. I mean really is Amazing Race worse than the movie Ultraviolet? Cause if it is you have some serious problems.
      • It's likely to be far more interesting too. Can you imagine - as soon as the show's website is set up, there will be every hacker and his dog pounding on the firewall. The only challenge the show would have to set is "make the webserver last the night".

        Hey - maybe that's even good naming material. Dusk to Pw0nd!

    • American Idol beats everything out in ratings.

      I'm not sure how the other composites are doing nowadays (Amazing Race, Survivor, Family Makeover) but they don't have to do that well to turn a profit.

      Among the intelligensia, sure, reality programming bites it, but we're not the targets.

    • Wait a minute, aren't blogs pretty-much reality TV for the Internet? People whining, advertisements, cool graphics, +1 insightful, advertisements, some asshole being a jerk, *static*, vacation pictures, advertisements, more people whining, advertisements, and so on. The Internet is pretty much just like reality TV, just with more porn!
    • I think that thinking people don't want reality TV, and the reality is that there are more stupid people than thinking people. How else can you explain Brittany Spears? I really don't know where they get these focus groups, and people with nielson boxes. I can't imagine what kind of people like the kinds of shows that are on TV these days. Commercials suck too, but I'm happy that my MythTV [] eats them for me.
  • but.... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Darth_brooks ( 180756 ) <clipper377&gmail,com> on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @07:16PM (#14968114) Homepage
    Wait, American Idol only exists so we can mock the idiots that don't know what they're doing. I already mock people who don't know what they're doing. It's called:

    root@notmine>rm -rf *
    • Re:but.... (Score:3, Funny)

      by Baricom ( 763970 )
      Unfortunately, you missed the previous command:

      • Oh please. I'm very good at computer security. I know better than to do something dumb like that.

        Besides, the Password Inspector on IRC said my root password was one of the best he'd ever seen.

    • C:\Documents and Settings\cooldev>rm -rf *
      'rm' is not recognized as an internal or external command,
      operable program or batch file.

      Does this mean I'm secure?
  • Simon Cowell to be replaced by Slashdot members.
    • Frankly, that would be ingenious and hilarious. With just a short pause, the most witty comments would get bubbled to the top (and broadcasted)... hmmmmm
  • by khasim ( 1285 ) <> on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @07:18PM (#14968134)
    But with TALC, according to Ahamad, folks browsing the Internet will be provided with a visual safety score (between one and 10) that rates Web sites they browse based on other users' experiences. The ratings system will be modeled after feedback systems used to gauge things like trustworthiness of eBay traders.
    So, a new site goes online and, immediately, the owner has a bunch of 'bots rate it as "extremely safe A++++".

    That's not going to be very effective without some means of identifying/limiting who gets to rate a site.
    • You'd need to build a web of trust, whereby you indicate whose ratings you trust and to what degree. Second-order and higher ratings (made by people who are trusted by the people *you* trust, and so forth) would also contribute to the rating you saw for a given site.

      The flaw with anything that depends on a web of trust is bootstrapping. How to build a big enough userbase of people who trust each other in real life?
  • by nettdata ( 88196 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @07:22PM (#14968160) Homepage
    This is lame.

    It sounds more like a VC "talent search", where the $50k MIGHT be enough cash to pay one person a mac-and-cheese salary and get a business plan and some collateral marketing done to get properly financed.

    Or, it could be a "anything you submit will become our property" type "scam", where some grad student has a unique approach that this group then becomes the owner of for a mere $50k. They can then take the idea and run with it, and reap the benefits.

    All in all, sounds like something I'd not be lining up for.

    • It sounds more like a VC "talent search", where the $50k MIGHT be enough cash to pay one person a mac-and-cheese salary and get a business plan and some collateral marketing done to get properly financed.

      Where was Apple computers founded? They made the PC revolution happen, before any AT clones were seen in peoples homes. Wasn't it just a bunch of guys who liked computers, and put in work for the cause? I don't remember the exact facts, but didn't it start by ordering parts from a magazine and seeing wha

  • American Inventor? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by antdude ( 79039 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @07:31PM (#14968202) Homepage Journal
    Hmmph, editors removed my brief comment.

    Does anyone think American Inventor [] fits better instead of American Idol [] for this story? It seems like this story is about inventing.
  • by wmajik ( 688431 ) <{moc.oohay} {ta} {kijamw}> on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @07:35PM (#14968230) Homepage Journal
    Pop: Windows
    Alternative: Linux
    Rock: BSD
    Jazz: Mac
    Country: Solaris

    William Hung: Pick any above. Set root/admin password to PASSWORD. Mission accomplished.
  • Grad students (Score:2, Informative)

    by zerocool^ ( 112121 )

    $50,000?!? That's enough to fund 2 green card graduate students for 5 years EACH!!

    Careless with money...
  • People are the weakest link in any security systems
    it says in the article. The solution to the problem is simple and apparent then: Air the show in primetime, preferably on a channel that would normally sport series such as American Idol. That'll teach them...
  • by unborracho ( 108756 ) <> on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @07:55PM (#14968341) Homepage
    Maybe I'll get flagged troll for this, but $50,000 isn't even enough to pay for a yearly salary of one employee at a corporation. How do they expect that much money to be able to fund a 12 month project?
    • Maybe if they outsource the project.
    • If I could work on my own project for a year for $50k, I'd take a paycut
    • As much as I wish, I don't get anywhere near that (less). Sure, it's not a lot, but I do live comfortably in an apartment, I have a nice car, and I always have a good supply of food. I wish I could get paid that much, I would still probably be living in a simple apartment. Anyway, $50,000 is a LOT to some people, not everyone gets what they should earn (and I'm tryin to get a better job, but living in West Michigan, its not that easy).
    • Don't you know? IT people live off of Doritos and soda. $50,000 should last a team of four at LEAST 12 months.
    • Ummm, hello []
      Apparently you missed this article earlier today.
  • shouldn't the goal be to make it more secure?

    the problem isn't that security software is too technical (look at zonealarm's nice and friendly interface), it's that people aren't educated about the most fundamental aspects of computer security, like what firewalls are, and that AV programs only work if you keep them updated. Bleh.
  • by Milton Waddams ( 739213 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @08:02PM (#14968391)
    I could think of better things to spend my money on. Like 16,666.67 cups of coffee!
  • Given a choice between this show and the one that's going to be a twenty-year long epic about moisture farming on a desert planet, I choose the latter.
  • Georgia Tech College of Computing, Information Security Center, and Graphics, Visualization and Usability Center.

    This kind of reminds me of a dilbert strip...

  • I would pay per episode to see a recording of this. Sounds pretty cool.
  • so, they're going to take the idea of a show, which takes people with no origionality, barely any musical talent, and bring it to the tech world? wow, microsoft should win this one.
  • "Instead they weigh students' ideas for making information security more user-friendly,"

  • I would be interested in a different show where contestants are "would-be hackers" and security pros or just plain "kiddies" and "wannabes" who undergo a series of security/hacking related "tests" to test their ability and knowledge to penetrate certain security measures put in place. A preliminary contest would start initially with entry level web based hacking for example, or simple brute force password and username schemes to gain next level access to remote and local systems - albeit honey pots or live
  • From the article:

    "In the real world, when you are in a bad neighborhood it is very clear," said Mustaque Ahamad, director of Georgia Tech's Information Security Center. "But online, you have no idea whether you or your computer system is in any kind of danger."

    That's BS

    Here's how to determine if you're in a bad "cyberhood" in 3 easy steps with great accuracy and very reasonable false positive rate:

    1. Are you illegally downloading content (music/movies/software/etc)? If yes, you are in a bad neighborho

    • Come on people, its not rocket science. Where my 50k?
      Errr.... when you post something like that in a bad neighborhood like /. , I suppose that you're talking about the $50k that USED to be in your bank account?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      "Are you being offered something for nothing? If yes, you are in a bad neighborhood."

      I've never paid for anything on the internet... most of the best sites (to me) don't even have adverts. And what about linux!
  • All,

    Let me set some misconceptions right. I'm disheartened to note that present day journalism is still very much a grapevine. The author of the original article added a bit of sensationalism by comparing a scholarly competition to "American Idol" probably to get the attention of the reader. I can level with that. But it goes downhill from there. In the case of my project TALC, everything other than the name is pretty much off target. TALC combines Awareness, using techniques like Ambient displays; Learni

Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons.