At the end of October, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency issued a $50,000 challenge for anyone who could solve its five shredded paper challenges. The Daily Mail reports that one group -- "All Your Shreds Are Belong To Us" -- are just one shred of the last puzzle away from completing the task, but the clock is ticking as the challenge ends Dec. 4.
The challenge was presented to " identify and assess potential capabilities that could be used by our warfighters operating in war zones, but might also create vulnerabilities to sensitive information that is protected through our own shredding practices throughout the U.S. national security community."
The Daily Mail reports that "All Your Shreds Are Belong To Us" is using an "unknown" method to help them solve the puzzles and is rumored to be working on a forum called 4Chan:
The group claims that "crowd sourcing is basically cheating" -- hinting that they have created a computer-based method of reassembling shredded documents.
The Daily Mail goes on to state that those leading the challenge so far have done so manually and used crowd sourcing, but notes that certain algorithms could be used to help find likely matches. The alumni of UCSD, for example, are banding together to try and get crowd sourcing to help them solve the puzzles, even offering rewards for people who help fit pieces together.
Although DARPA's goal was to identify if there was a computerized way to put complicated shreds back together, if "All Your Shreds Are Belong To Us" has in fact developed a computer program to do so, it could mean the sensitive documents that average households shred could be at risk.
This story has been updated since its original posting.