Thursday, April 6, 2017

SANS Netwars Experience & CyberCity

Last week I had the wonderful opportunity to partake in the SANS Netwars competition as well as the CyberCity challenge while taking Sec504 at Pentest Austin. Let me start by saying that if you are trying to figure out if you should do it, dive right in and have some fun!!

So what is Netwars? Netwars is a game that is played by utilizing hacking methodologies to score points. The players are ranked by their points score, and how many hints they have taken. There are 5 different levels each requiring a number of points to unlock. The first two levels are played on a VM that is given to you, while levels 3 and 4 are played off of a jump box that you are given access to once you unlock the third level. Level 5 is where you defend your "castle" while attacking others.

At Pentest Austin, Netwars is a three night event that runs on select nights throughout the week. It is also one of the few places for "Coin-A-Palooza" where you can earn challenge coins for completing levels at Netwars. Since Sec504 was the first SANS class that I had taken, it was the only coin I could win. But, I was able to earn my challenge coin on the first night of the competition by advancing to level 2. 

At the end of the third night I had managed to get half-way through the third level, an accomplishment that I did not think that I would be able to do. I managed to rank 78/168 which puts me in just under the half-way mark on the leader board. I was proud of my accomplishment and grateful that I had ventured out of my comfort zone and gave it a try. Oh, and then I won the raffle for a Netwars Continuous subscription that will allow me to tackle that challenge for 4 months. I might be a little excited about starting that.

The final night was devoted to CyberCity. While Netwars had been an individual challenge, CyberCity was groups of 5.  CyberCity is a scale model of a city running real industrial control systems that you are given the chance to hack into. A team of us from Sec504 banded together to try and hack into the lighting control systems for the street lights. The scoreboard for this event is similar to NetWars in that you answer questions to direct you on what you should be doing. As our time ran out my team had managed to venture far into the control systems but came up short of our overall goal. It was a fun experience to say the least. 

So why am I writing about it? Because it is that awesome!! Really though, it was a lot of fun and if you are already immersing yourself into one of the SANS courses do yourself the favor of checking these after-hours events out. 

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