SANS Holiday Hack Challenge 2018
KringleCon Wrap-Up and Winning Entry Announcement
The 2018 SANS Holiday Hack Challenge starts with a simple premise. Santa Claus, frustrated by the efforts of holiday super villains trying to destroy the holiday season in years past, decides to host an information security conference at his North Pole castle. The result? 22 industry-leading speakers deliver AMAZING presentations at KringleCon! Santa offers his heart-felt thanks to those 22 speakers as well as all of our 17,000-plus attendees.
But Santa had something else up his sleeve. KringleCon had a deeper and much more subtle purpose. After participants solved a few challenges, the conference itself comes under siege. The toy soldiers suddenly get grumpy and outright mean. More important, Hans Gruber, conveniently located at the center of the entrance foyer to Santa's castle, starts listing his demands. KringleCon attendees find themselves matching wits with Hans and his team of brutish toy soldiers, trying to save KringleCon itself from their seemingly nefarious plans!
After solving around three quarters of the challenges, Hans is defeated, plunging into a snow bank. Yet, there are STILL MORE CHALLENGES. Why? Well, after solving ALL of the challenges, players learn the final plot and the true reason for KringleCon. Santa himself set up KringleCon and the whole siege of the castle as a ruse to help him identify highly talented information security people from around the world. His KringleCon plan all along was to enlist these amazing people to help him keep the holiday season safe from attackers. In the end, Hans works for Santa. The whole thing was a set-up. Just as Willy Wonka set up the Golden Ticket contest to find his Charlie, Santa found some truly incredible people who participated in this year's Holiday Hack Challenge. In fact, when you first walk into the castle and stop by Santa to hear his opening remarks, they are derived from the opening dialog of Mr. Wonka himself as children entered his chocolate factory. What's more, when you complete the entire challenge, Santa and Hans use very similar dialog to that of Willy Wonka and Slugworth. Ultimately, Santa was the mastermind behind the entire plot.
The team here at SANS wishes to thank Santa for sharing the story line with us so we could share it with you!
And now, on to our announcement of the winning entries!
First up, we've got our Honorable Mentions. These folks did a wonderful job with their answers, and we heartily congratulate them:
Mary Ellen Kennel
Yaron "Sam0rai" King
Adam Trask and Brian Wanner
Jeroen van Prooijen
SUPER HONORABLE MENTIONS
For our next category, we've got a group of people who really went above and beyond with their entries. Their write-ups were SUPERB, demonstrating excellent technical skills along with impressive communication skills. Congrats to those earning a Super Honorable Mention:
BusyR (R Bastiaans)
Khor Teck Chung
Subin Thayyile Kandy
Antonios Adolf Lapornik
RANDOM DRAW ENTRIES
Now, let's review our random-draw winners, who will receive a KringleCon t-shirt. By the way, if you'd like, you can still order your own KringleCon t-shirt here (please note, we don't make any money at all from the t-shirts or other KringleCon swag. All proceeds go to the t-shirt vendor).
BEST TECHNICAL ANSWER
We received so many wonderful entries this year. But, when selecting our top three winning write-ups, we take into account how well each one presents the information in a clear, understandable format from which other participants and readers can learn. This year, Steve Sampana earned the Best Technical Answer designation for his truly wonderful write-up. It's heavily illustrated, easy to understand, well organized, and, frankly, quite beautiful. Santa's hat is off to Steve on a job well done.
MOST CREATIVE ANSWER THAT IS TECHNICALLY CORRECT
We received numerous very creative entries this year. But of all of them, the entry by Andy Smith was astonishingly good! He created a series of videos that not only introduces the overall challenge, but also walks through all of the technical aspects of terminal and grand challenges. Andy's narration is also a delight to listen to. For those who learn best through watching hands-on demonstrations, we URGE you to check out Andy's answers here.
BEST OVERALL ANSWER
This entry, our grand-prize winning write-up, is also our set of OFFICIAL ANSWERS to the 2018 SANS Holiday Hack Challenge. Dop, Sam, and Vlad from ESNet created a simply AMAZING entry! Their answers include detailed maps of Santa's castle, videos showing how they solved each terminal challenge, an inventory of every Easter egg included in the challenge, and a police report at the end for Hans Gruber and Santa Claus. Anyone interested in the solutions to the SANS Holiday Hack Challenge 2018 should really read through this amazing write-up.
With that, let us draw the 2018 SANS Holiday Hack Challenge to a close. Remember, we'll keep the whole system running year-round so you can practice, practice, practice and learn. In fact, as you review the official answers above, you can work through the challenges on your own as you build skills... and that’s what the SANS Holiday Hack Challenge is all about!
Thank you all again for helping Santa this year, and we are very much looking forward to having you all join us for the 2019 Holiday Hack Challenge... "KCII".