Microsoft is constantly trying to evolve its ability to protect users against malware on Windows 10. Of course, that’s easier said than done as cyberattacks are increasing in frequency and potency. On Windows 10, Microsoft’s Windows Defender is the company’s front-line protector. Now Redmond wants artificial intelligence (AI) to drive anti-malware efforts.

Microsoft has debuted a competition on data science website Kaggle. The company is “challenging the data science community to develop techniques to predict if a machine will soon be hit with malware.”

In a blog post, Microsoft describes the competition as a necessity to combat the evolving malware industry:

“The malware industry continues to be a well-organized, well-funded market dedicated to evading traditional security measures. Once a computer is infected by malware, criminals can hurt consumers and enterprises in many ways.”

Details

Users who decide to take part in the competition will receive 9.4GB of anonymous data taken from 16.8 million machines. This is a training set of enormous information that data scientists can use to create an AI model that produces the most accuracy.

Microsoft says it will hand out $25,000 in a prize fund, tiered in the following way:

  • 1st Place – $12,000
  • 2nd Place – $7,000
  • 3rd Place – $3,000
  • 4th Place – $2,000
  • 5th Place – $1,000

So far, the best entry is an AI model that was 68.9%. This entry is not sufficient to win the competition, and we expect that accuracy to become much better before the competition closes. That will happen on March 13, 2019 according to Microsoft.