SANS Institute & Counter Hack - Holiday Hack Challenge

Information Security - Practical Skills and Awareness

Nothing stands still for long in the world of technology, so staying up-to-date is an essential part of life as a consultant. Cybersecurity is an especially fast-moving area where understanding tools and techniques available to both the good guys and the bad guys is important. The internationally-renowned SANS Institute works with the Counter Hack team and others each year to provide a Christmas-themed interactive Capture-The-Flag and learning environment, where participants can update their knowledge and practical skills around cybersecurity.

SANS Institute

More Practical Fun with InfoSec

Following last year's participation in the fun and educational capture-the-flag event KringleCon, Mike once again dusted down his programming skills and mastery of obscure linux commands to take on the 12 information security challenges provided by the SANS team in KringleCon 2. This year he fared better than last time, completing all 12 problems within the allotted time (just!). This year's challenges included a lot of network and logfile analysis via tools like Splunk and RITA, as well as a programming a practical application of machine learning to break a CAPTCHA. There was also a tricky crypto code reverse-engineering challenge that brought back happy memories on 6809 assembler programming.

SANS Institute

Completing a Series of Red-Team /  Blue-Team CTF challenges

Each year the SANS Institute - the internationally renowned cyber-security training and knowledge-sharing organisation - organises a capture-the-flag (CTF) competition in which security experts are invited to complete a series of red-team (i.e. simulated computer hacking) and blue-team (i.e. defending against attack) challenges, to develop and demonstrate their understanding of cyber-security risks.

Keeping it real

While I haven't been paid to write computer programs since 1993, I've always found that maintaining an interest in coding technology and platforms (among other things) has offered great benefits when dealing with developers and especially when debunking IT suppliers' FUD and nonsense. So here's a small hobby project that ticked a number of interesting boxes in 2008 - open source, PHP, JavaScript, web services, geolocation and mashups.

Why Cogitant? 

In 2008 there were already around 1.2 million limited companies registered in the UK and the dot-com era promise of internet riches had led to the registration of more than 7 million .uk domain names.  Finding a name that was available for use both as a company name and a domain name, that was reasonably short and memorable, and that was related in some way to the activity of the new company proved to be quite a challenge.  I came across cogitant during a trawl of Latin words with somewhat relevant meanings - it's the present participle of cogitare, to think - and appears in the OED as a rare English word of the same meaning i.e. "thinking", and also "that thinks".