Underhanded C Contest

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The Underhanded C Contest is a programming contest to turn out code that is malicious, but passes a rigorous inspection, and looks like an honest mistake. The contest rules define a task, and a malicious component. Entries must perform the task in a malicious manner as defined by the contest, and hide the malice. Contestants are allowed to use C-like compiled languages to make their programs.

The contest is organized by Dr. Scott Craver [1] of the Department of Electrical Engineering at Binghamton University (New York State).


2005 Contest

The 2005 contest had the task of image processing, while embedding a watermark. Winning entries from 2005 used uninitialized data structures, reuse of pointers, and an embedding of shellcode in constants.

2006 Contest

The 2006 contest required entries to count word occurrences, but have vastly different runtimes on different platforms. To accomplish the task, entries used fork implementation errors, optimization problems, endian differences and various API implementation differences.

2007 Contest

The 2007 contest required entries to encrypt and decrypt files with a strong, readily available encryption algorithm such that a low percentage (1% - 0.01%) of the encrypted files may be cracked in a reasonably short time. The contest commenced on April 16 and ended on July 4.

2008 Contest

The 2008 contest required entries to redact a rectangular portion of a PPM image in a way that the portion may be reconstructed. Any method of "blocking out" the rectangle was allowed, as long as the original pixels were removed, and the pixel reconstruction didn't have to be perfect[2] (although the reconstruction's fidelity to the original file would be a factor in judging). The contest began on June 12, and ended on September 30.

2009 Contest

The 2009 contest required entries to redirect a piece of luggage based on some innocuous-looking comment in the space-delimited input data file. The prize this time is a $100 gift certificate to ThinkGeek. The contest began 2009 December 29, and ends on 2010 March 1.

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