Hack The Box https://www.hackthebox.eu/ is one of the most popular platforms when it comes to CTFs, boasting almost 150,000 Ethical Hackers. This is by far one of the largest online hacking communities with a fantastic competitive aspect to it.
Sentry Cybersecurity team in together with our students in Cyber Academy have been placed in the Top 0.001% in global competitive ranking, reaching Top 5 Globally as a Team, Top 10 as a Country, Top 5 through 100 as individuals, as well as contributed to the platform with some of the most innovative challenges to date in “Chainsaw”. This has placed our community among the best in the world, and I’m immensely lucky to be a part of it.
But before we go into details:
If you haven’t watched the movie “Hackers” (1995), stop reading this article and go rent out a copy somewhere. You’ll have the chance to see young Angelina Jolie act as one of the top hackers in a rave-infested city who then gets taunted into a hacking competition with an up and coming 1337. While it does not do a very good job in terms of technical accuracy, it definitely captures the competitive spirit present in White-hat and Black-hat communities alike — prized and cherished since the 80s.
When contributing to the community, groups or individuals usually sign off with a digital graffiti of their handle somewhere in the code or publication. When doing bug bounty programs, there are rankings and halls of fame in order to highlight and recognize the best and most skilled hackers. Building reputation is sacred, and competing is a big part of it.
In fact, competitiveness is so deeply rooted into hacking culture that there are entire services dedicated to archiving defaced websites (trophies for bragging rights) one of which you may be able to find here http://www.zone-h.org/. When black-hat or hacktivist groups go after one another, expect flame wars on twitter, doxxing, screenshots aimed to embarrass one another, and a bunch of entries in some of these archiving websites to show off 1337ness.
Today, Capture The Flag events, which are essentially hacking competitions, litter the info-sec space with some of the most prominent being those at Defcon, Blackhat, and our own regional Cyber Defense Week. The best CTFs are designed to be highly competitive, pitting teams against one another in a number of formats and specially crafted settings to allow for an explosion of hacking shenanigans and escapades.
There are now massive online CTFs and competitions which put hackers against one another internationally and allow for fantastic networking opportunities between professionals as well as measuring ones skill in technical areas and problem solving. Very popular and very exciting!
Hack The Box https://www.hackthebox.eu/ has a fantastic competitive landscape with amazing rules and community. You first understand this when you find out that in order to be able to sign up you must know how to hack your way around the registration system otherwise you can’t join. This means that the majority of the ~150,000 users know how to perform ethical hacking techniques to a certain degree.
There are a total of 117 multilayered challenges in the CTF that are accessible globally by all participants in the platform. The challenges have varying degrees of difficulty and are built by the community itself — the HTB staff are simply the facilitators. This ensures that the content is fair, exciting, and diverse. There are also extra challenges that you can complete for extra points in addition to the active 20 challenges such as reverse engineering, forensics, programming, networking, etc. The main challenges are on weekly rotations with new content being added continuously, and older content being archived. You can tell that HTB is a project of passion by simply analyzing its mechanics and that makes for an amazing platform.
At Sentry, we collectively joined the platform after one of our Penetration Testers highlighted the benefits it had as an off-hours hobby. We were immediately drawn into its potential for glory. We also began urging our Cyber Academy students to sign up and take a go at the challenges. In a matter of two months we had completely drained the platform of content, completing every challenge possible. From a competitive standpoint we had a major boom in our score and have drawn the attention of many amazing individuals within the community. The Sentry Team comprised of Absolutezero, agonx00, redon, spenkk, cww, and XXYXXZ, had reached the Top 5 Globally.
Apart from the Sentry Team, some of our Cyber Academy students had created their own group named 0xIllyrians, artikrh and butrintkomoni, dedicated to our Balkan origins continued to dominate the platform long after most of us went inactive. They also reached the Top 5 Globally as a team and as individuals with many contributions in the community.
As of this writing, the newest challenge named “Chainsaw” will be implemented as the 118th addition to the platform, designed and built by Absolutezero and artikrh in the networks of Prishtina, Sentry, and Cyber Academy. I will be posting more about the challenge after it is archived so it might be a while, but don’t miss it if you are into CTFs. Go sign up in HTB when you have the time, we highly recommend it.
Apart from that announcement, I will be posting more about Cyberlance, our very own simulations platform that is like HTB on steroids with special focus on higher education. Feel free to contact us and know more by reaching out in social media platforms or through our website at https://sentry.co.com
Thank you for your time. I hope this article has been helpful and enjoyable.