Endpoint

6/4/2010
01:47 PM
Connect Directly
Google+
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Defcon To Host 'Capture The Flag' Social Engineering Contest

No unethical activities or 'damage' to targeted companies or people allowed

In a twist to the popular "capture the flag" game played by hacking teams every year at Defcon, the hacker conference is hosting a contest that aims to test participants' social engineering skills -- without anyone getting hurt.

The Social Engineering CTF will provide contestants beforehand with the name and URL of their "target" company, and they then must gather any information they can online or via other passive data-gathering methods (no phone calls, email, or direct contact with the targeted firms). They score points for the reconnaissance information gathered as well as for the plan of attack, all of which must be submitted one week prior to Defcon in a dossier format.

Each contestant gets a 20-minute window to perform the attack live at Defcon -- in a phone call to the targeted firm -- plus five minutes to explain to attendees their technique and strategy. They score points based on the designated "flags" they capture and the information they gather from the target.

Hacking contests are all the rage at Defcon every year, and social engineering has been among the games in past years. This year's contest is different in that there are specific ground rules -- participants must legally socially engineer their way into the company, and they are not allowed to get credit card numbers, social security numbers, passwords, involve porn, or make the target feel "at risk." They can't use government agencies, law enforcement, or legal entities as a ruse to get inside, nor can they contact relatives or family of the targeted firm's employees.

"Social Engineering skills can be demonstrated without engaging in unethical activities. The contest focuses on the skills of the contestant, not who does the most damage," the contest rules say.

But given that it's Defcon, it's still likely to stir up a little trouble somehow.

One social engineering expert who plans to participate says the big difference between this year's contest and last year's is the previous challenge was smaller and had no rules. "This year, they have rules about what information you can go after and saying it has to be legal in approach and not expose certain information. Also, you can't pose as law enforcement or pretend that the person is at risk," says Joshua Perrymon, CTO and founder of PacketFocus.

The "flag" in the contest is basically a list of the specific information the contestants must get during their phone call at Defcon, and they don't receive the list until the day of the event.

"Overall, I think that this is great for social engineering. It's something that has been around forever -- con artists, NLP experts, and general human manipulation. But it's good to see that this is being presented publicly to expose how easy it is to get this information, and when done properly you can get this type of information without breaking laws," Perrymon says.

The first-place prize winner will receive a "specially branded" 16 GB iPad, according to the contest rules. The social engineering contest runs from July 30 to Aug. 1 at Defcon in Las Vegas.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message.

Kelly Jackson Higgins is Executive Editor at DarkReading.com. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Higher Education: 15 Books to Help Cybersecurity Pros Be Better
Curtis Franklin Jr., Senior Editor at Dark Reading,  12/12/2018
'PowerSnitch' Hacks Androids via Power Banks
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  12/8/2018
Worst Password Blunders of 2018 Hit Organizations East and West
Curtis Franklin Jr., Senior Editor at Dark Reading,  12/12/2018
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
Current Issue
10 Best Practices That Could Reshape Your IT Security Department
This Dark Reading Tech Digest, explores ten best practices that could reshape IT security departments.
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2018-14623
PUBLISHED: 2018-12-14
A SQL injection flaw was found in katello's errata-related API. An authenticated remote attacker can craft input data to force a malformed SQL query to the backend database, which will leak internal IDs. This is issue is related to an incomplete fix for CVE-2016-3072. Version 3.10 and older is vulne...
CVE-2018-18093
PUBLISHED: 2018-12-14
Improper file permissions in the installer for Intel VTune Amplifier 2018 Update 3 and before may allow unprivileged user to potentially gain privileged access via local access.
CVE-2018-18096
PUBLISHED: 2018-12-14
Improper memory handling in Intel QuickAssist Technology for Linux (all versions) may allow an authenticated user to potentially enable a denial of service via local access.
CVE-2018-18097
PUBLISHED: 2018-12-14
Improper directory permissions in Intel Solid State Drive Toolbox before 3.5.7 may allow an authenticated user to potentially enable escalation of privilege via local access.
CVE-2018-3704
PUBLISHED: 2018-12-14
Improper directory permissions in the installer for the Intel Parallel Studio before 2019 Gold may allow authenticated users to potentially enable an escalation of privilege via local access.