Press release

U.S. Air Force Sponsors Spy Movie-Style Physical Hacking Challenge

Sponsored by Businesswire

The Air Force Research Laboratory is sponsoring an elite hacking challenge for New York City-area colleges and universities that will test students’ ability to hack into physical security systems.

“No Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Hack” (found at is a sophisticated spy movie-style hacking challenge that involves both cyber and physical break-in techniques. The three-stage capture-the-flag hacking competition involves reverse engineering, vulnerability discovery and exploit development specific to embedded and cyber-physical systems. To win, participants will have to circumvent remote monitoring systems (IP security cameras), remote defense systems (simulated gun turret) and access control systems (RFID door locks) in order to gain access to a secure container.

Winners will receive paid internships with AFRL partners, performing cutting-edge work in embedded cybersecurity.

Online qualifying rounds have already begun, and the final physical challenge will take place at Red Balloon Security’s new headquarters in Midtown Manhattan on March 21, 2020.


This effort sponsored by the Air Force under MOU FA8750-15-3-6000. The U.S. Government is authorized to reproduce and distribute copies for Governmental purposes notwithstanding any copyright or other restrictive legends.

The views and conclusions contained herein are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as necessarily representing the official policies or endorsements, either expressed or implied, of the Air Force or the U.S. Government.

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About Red Balloon Security

Founded in 2011, Red Balloon Security ( is a leading cybersecurity provider and research firm that specializes in the protection of embedded devices across all industries. The company’s technology defends embedded systems with a suite of host-based firmware security solutions that provide continuous runtime protection of firmware and secure embedded systems against exploitation. Red Balloon Security’s pioneering R&D is led by a team of world-class academic researchers and developers who have published seminal research papers in the fields of embedded security and intrusion detection, led US Department of Defense-funded research activities, ethically disclosed vulnerabilities within hundreds of millions of ubiquitous embedded devices and worked as embedded security researchers within various intelligence agencies.