Today Microsoft announced a new contest called the BlueHat Prize, designed to spur innovation in computer security protection technology.Microsoft is turning to the public for new ideas regarding defensive approaches to computer security risks.The company has put up a prize pot worth over $250,000 for the top 3 contestants to split at next year’s Black Hat USA convention.

Security experts from across the globe converge in Sin City for the four day event, the largest conference of its kind. It’s here that experts in the field discuss and share information on the latest security vulnerabilities.

“Microsoft recognizes the need to stimulate research in the area of defensive computer security technology,” said Matt Thomlinson, Microsoft’s Trustworthy Computing Group GM. “Our interest is to promote a focus on developing innovative solutions rather than discovering individual issues. We believe the BlueHat Prize can catalyze defensive efforts to help mitigate entire classes of attacks.”

According to the official contest rules and regulations, Microsoft is looking for a runtime mitigation technology solution that is capable of preventing the exploitation of memory safety vulnerabilities. The company is hoping that a hefty cash prize will motivate contestants and make the effort worthwhile for the winners.

The winner of the contest will receive $200,000 while second place nets $50,000. A third place finisher will receive a MSDN Universal subscription valued at $10,000.

Entries will be judged based on the following model: 30 percent for practicality and functionality, 30 percent for robustness and the remaining 40 percent is based on impact. Microsoft employees and residents of Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria are ineligible to participate in the contest.