Cyber Grand Challenge

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The computer you're using today is running core software known as an “operating system” (OS) to provide basic services such as networking and file storage. Operating systems grow like cities, with layers built on top of layers. To automatically analyze software running on any modern OS, a “complexity tax” must be paid to navigate the layers of old function, multiple methods and layered interfaces.

DARPA built DECREE – the DARPA Experimental Cybersecurity Research Evaluation Environment – specifically for the Cyber Grand Challenge. DECREE is an open source operating system extension built exclusively for computer security research and experimentation. It includes several features to make it ideal for security experimentation, including:

Simplicity

Simplicity  Where any industry OS such as Linux will have hundreds of OS interface methods (“system calls”), DECREE has just seven, easing the work required to perform automatic identification of program input and output. DECREE also has its own executable format with a single entry point method to lower the barrier to entry for automation research.

High Determinism

High Determinism  Reproducibility is a key aspect of a sound scientific design. While perfect system state replay is impossible without a full system event recorder, DECREE has been designed to allow high determinism and reproducibility given a record of software and inputs. This reproducibility property has been built into DECREE from kernel modifications up through the entire platform stack.

Incompatibility

Incompatibility  The software that runs in DECREE is custom-built for computer security research. DECREE programs have their own binary format, their own system call paradigm and share no code or protocols with the real world. For this reason, automation research done in DECREE is incompatible with the software that runs our world.

DECREE is Open Source and will remain so in perpetuity as it is an experimentation ecosystem capable of uniting program analysis research, Capture-The-Flag competitions, and other applied research activities.

Please see the source code on GitHub here.

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