Sunday, October 30, 2011

HitB 2011 - Tower of Hackf00 Madness CtF Competition in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Learning journey shared by: Jeremy Heng (DISM 2B01)

It was a fitting end to the semestral break this October when 10 students from the Diploma in Infocomm Security Management (DISM) spent their last week of their holidays in Kuala Lumpur pitting their hacking skills against security professionals and enthusiasts from all around the globe, where teams came from places as far off as the Netherlands. The Hack-in-the-Box KUL Conference (at the Hotel Intercontinental) was host to the Tower of Hackf00 Madness Attack-Only Capture the Flag Hacking Competition where participants had to retrieve 'flags' by successfully completing a number of challenges from various problem domains such as Cryptography or Reverse Engineering.

The students formed two teams of three each: π and Lepak for the competition that was held over two days, spanning a total of 31 hours and ran without interruption except for a two-hour maintainance pit-stop. It was a gruelling experience indeed for everyone involved; sleep was a short and valued commodity.

On the first day of the trip, the students established their residences and checked out the competition area, with intent to familiarise themselves in preparation for the event the very next day. They turned in early, getting that much needed rest for what was to come.

Early next morning, the team made their way to the competition venue, armed with the necessary hardware. Before the competion started, the organisers gave a briefing on the rules for the CtF and from there, it began. Both teams leapt onto the scoreboard bearing points within the first 8 hours, solving the easy bin challenge. As the skies darkened, the competition arena started to empty. Most of the competing teams chose to rest. Eventually, only the Japanese team (Sutegoma2), the Vietnamese team (D3c3p71c0n), and both DISM teams remained. They spent the whole night and morning working furiously throughout.

On the second day of the challenge, π managed to clinch one more challenge (1337 racer) just in time to see itself gain 8th placing on the scoreboard when the time ran out. Lepak stood at 10th.

While the π and Lepak agreed that they might not gotten as great as a placing they would like, it was definitely an eye-opening experience for the 7 year twos and the 3 year threes. Many lessons were learnt during the trip, and it is certain, it has changed them.

Students eagerly anticipating the journey towards Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Awaiting to set up in the hotel rooms.

Discussing plans for the competition the next day.

Inspection and checks of the equipment the night before the competition.

Capture the Flag: Tower of Hackf00 Madness.

Team Pi

Team Lepak

The scores halfway through the competition.

The competition persisted through the night.

A handful of teams stayed on overnight, including Teams Pi and Lepak.

Solving a challenge.

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