Public fascination with television's "CSI" forensic detectives and with the
virtual reality depicted in the "Matrix" films may be partly responsible for the
high level of interest garnered by a Defense Department contest to solve cyber
The Digital Forensics Challenge was created by Jim Christy, director of
future exploration at the Defense Department Cyber Crime Center, better known as
"We had 1,153 teams play from 61 different countries [in this year's
contest], so it was kind of amazing," Christy said in a Dec. 9 "Armed with
Science: Research and Applications for the Modern Military" podcast interview.
Though contestants work on invented puzzles, researchers harvest real
crime-solving tools from their efforts. Those tools can help them stay ahead of
criminal activity ranging from hacking to espionage to child pornography.