Hackers attending the annual Ruxcon conference in Melbourne next month have been invited to participate in a multi-stage race to rescue the fictional "Chloe O'Brien".
The Capture the Flag competition was designed by penetration tester Securus Global over the past few months to test network, application and database security skills.
It involved custom-built systems, applications and a second-hand ATM that were configured to have known, predetermined vulnerabilities.
No live networks would be hacked, a conference organiser Chris Spencer said.
A Securus Global representative said puzzles were designed along 24 hacking themes. He declined to describe stages, as discovery of these and the story were also part of the challenge.
"Everything in the challenge is entirely confined and everything was set up for the game," he said, noting that there were no laws preventing participants from hacking those private systems.
"Understanding how things work and how they break is important to develop secure systems," said the representative, who declined to be named.
And while no promises of employment were made, Securus Global and other companies attending Ruxcon were likely to keep a close eye on the talent on display, the representative said.
Ruxcon takes place at Melbourne's CQ Function Centre on November 20 and 21.
Attendees will hear from Google, the Australian Federal Police, the US Department of Defence, and other security experts from Germany, Ireland, France and Switzerland.
Topics include bypassing Microsoft Windows security protections, breaking popular Java Web Frameworks, and unusual "design quirks" in common software applications.