The Federal Trade Commission announced Thursday the winners of its "Zapping Rachel" robocall contest held earlier this month at the DEF CON 22 hacking conference.
The contest offered winners a total of $17,000 and challenged participants to design a robocall honeypot - an information system designed to attract robocallers and help law enforcement authorities, researchers and others gain enhanced insights into their tactics.
Sixty teams and individuals registered for one or more of the contests three phases and the agency received 13 submissions. A panel of expert judges selected the winning entries for each of the three phases, along with two honorable mentions for the final phase.
The winners were:
The Creator Phase: Jon Olawski received $3,133.70 for his winning honeypot. Olawski's honeypot uses a combination of an audio captcha filter, call detail analysis and recording and transcription analysis to determine, on a sliding scale, the likelihood that an incoming call was a robocall. This phase challenged contestants to build a honeypot identifying inaccurate information in incoming calls, such as spoofed caller IDs.
The Attacker Phase: Jan Volzke received $3,133.70 for his winning solution, Droid Rachel. This phase challenged contestants to circumvent an existing honeypot and prevent it from collecting information on incoming calls. Droid Rachel circumvents the existing honeypot by employing a four-step targeting process that screens out phone numbers potentially connected to a honeypot, and optimizes Droid Rachels ability to send robocalls using unsuspecting consumers Android phones.
The Detective Phase: Yang Yang and Jens Fischer won this phase and shared a $3,133.70 prize. This phase challenged participants to analyze call data from an existing honeypot and develop algorithms predicting which calls are likely robocalls. The winning solution focused on metrics such as the number of calls made, whether the number called was a toll-free number and the time of the call to identify likely robocalls.
The judges also selected two honorable mentions Sean Beck and an entry identified only as submitted by "DarkTyphoon" and each received $1,337. Beck's solution focused on time of call and number of calls made, while DarkTyphoons solution used additional metrics such as average length of call, and the area code and exchange numbers called.
Judges scored submissions based on functionality and accuracy, as well as innovation and creativity. The winning solutions included open-source code and are designed to assist in the battle against robocallers. The FTC will post more information about the submissions online in the coming weeks.
The agency hosted its first robocall challenge in 2012, which garnered nearly 800 submissions, and stimulated the market to produce new robocall blocking technologies for consumers.