This story was written by Keith Dawson for the Industry Standard's Media Grok email newsletter. It is archived here for informational purposes only because The Standard's site is no more. This material is Copyright 1999-2001 by Standard Media.

Hack My System. Please.

Jan 16 2001 12:00 AM PST

The geek press takes on the third OpenHack challenge.

The third OpenHack challenge, which offers hackers $50,000 to break into servers supplied by Illinois-based Argus Systems Group, opened for business yesterday. It has been drawing a comfortable amount of coverage. Most reports in the mainstream media seemed content with quotes from Argus and from the contest's sponsor, eWeek. To dig deeper one had to turn to the geek press.

Many outlets that covered the story went with AP wire copy. And why not? The unsigned AP piece had a great lead - "Gentlemen, start your modems" - and quotes like this one from eWeek Editor in Chief Eric Lundquist: "I like that old rodeo saying: 'There's never been a horse that can't be rode, there's never been a rider that can't be throwed.'" AP gave little background on OpenHack or on Argus' track record in other such contests.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer augmented the AP coverage with a local angle: the views of two security experts, one a member of a group called the Ghetto Hackers. Reporter Marni Leff quoted the reluctance of hacker Riley "Caezar" Eller to take on Argus: "I've attempted to break into Argus systems before, and I think they provide a really good basis on which to start a network or a dot-com."

NewsFactor ran original reporting by Catherine Par. She recalled two earlier hacker challenges in which Argus' systems remained unbroken, including one in Germany in which the company's servers drew "1.4 million attacks from 360,000 discrete addresses." provided details of the contest's workings and a link to its home page - presumably, the site's readers include some who would be interested in trying out their hacking skills.'s commentator, "Sam," pointed out a seeming contradiction in Argus' security claims on its Web site, and readers added their own colorful commentary, some of it actually informative. (At Media Grok's deadline, Slashdot had not written about the contest.)

Computer Company Challenges Hackers
New York Times
(Registration required.)

$50,000 Prize - If They Can Hack It
Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Hackers' Contest Targets Formidable Foe

OpenHack III Open for Business

Welcome to OpenHack III
OpenH ack