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.

This is the third time Mike has joined the 15,000+ security professionals pitting their wits against the challenges set. The themes are carefully chosen to reflect current real-world issues, and this year included Amazon S3 bucket disclosure, hacking in-car systems and SaaS solutions, and a monster challenge around blockchain security. There was even a topical supply-chain vulnerability angle to the final challenge, warning of the perils of employing unproven consultants in security-critical areas! The challenges start simple and get progressively more difficult, so reaching the end takes a degree of commitment as well as skills and knowledge. Many participants publish reports and videos describing their adventures (check out #holidayhack), and for those who submit by the January deadline there's the possibility of recognition by the organisers and even some prizes.

Mike keeps a OneNote logbook documenting his journey through the challenges, and this year was ecstatic to receive both a "super-honourable mention" (one of only 27 awarded) and a runners-up prize in the Most Creative Answer category for his efforts. If you want to see what his logbook looks like, you can check it out via this link. If you're interested in having a look or trying out for yourself, the good news is that SANS keeps the environment (and those from prior events) up and running after competition close, so create an ID and have a go!