The goal of the contest is to write code that is as readable, clear, innocent and straightforward as possible, and yet it must fail to perform at its apparent function. To be more specific, it should do something subtly evil. Every year, we will propose a challenge to coders to solve a simple data processing problem, but with covert malicious behavior. Examples include miscounting votes, shaving money from financial transactions, or leaking information to an eavesdropper. The main goal, however, is to write source code that easily passes visual inspection by other programmers.

The specific challenge for 2014 is to write a surveillance subroutine that looks proper but leaks data. The deadline is Jan. 1, 2015, more or less. Learn more on the Underhanded C website; be sure to read the FAQ.

What do you think of Ernest Hemingway writing JavaScript and Scott Craver honoring evil C code? Write me at

About Alan Zeichick

Alan Zeichick, founding editor of SD Times, is principal analyst of Camden Associates. Contact him at