US Army team wants second chance at hacker contest

After falling short, a team of U.S. Army hackers plan to take a second shot at a hacking contest later this year

A team of U.S. Army hackers will attend the Hack In The Box (HITB) Security Conference 2007 in Kuala Lumpur later this year, seeking redemption after falling short at a hacker competition in Dubai earlier this month, the conference organizer said Tuesday.

The Army Strong team was drawn from members of the 2nd Battalion of the U.S. Army's 1st Information Operations Command (Land). The team was unable to complete the entry-level round, called Level 0, in a capture the flag (CTF) competition held by HITB in Dubai this month, according to Dhillon Andrew Kannabhiran, founder and chief executive officer of Hack In The Box (M) Sdn. Bhd

Unlike other CTF competitions that require teams to attack other servers while defending their own, the HITB contest in Dubai only required teams to attack servers and retrieve files, called flags, that were used to score points. Participants in the contest were also allowed to attack each other, but denial-of-service attacks were banned.

"The Dubai CTF was also a pure reverse engineering challenge with teams having to break six levels of increasing difficulty. Level 0 was a Win32 binary whereas all the other levels were Unix binaries," Kannabhiran said. "Teams would progress to the next level by cracking the current level which reveals a password/credentials needed to access the next challenge."

Army Strong was one of three teams competing in the Dubai contest. The other two teams were Team Eleet, whose members came from the Dubai Police, and NDMTEAM, a group of hackers from Bulgaria.

"The Bulgarians were the only team to successfully bypass level 0. However, they did not manage to reverse any of the other flags, as such there was no winner," Kannabhiran said.

The lack of a winner means the US$6,000 in cash prizes planned for Dubai were not awarded. Instead, the cash prizes will be carried forward to the Kuala Lumpur conference, he said.

Hack In The Box has yet to announce details of the CTF contest planned for the Kuala Lumpur conference, which will be held from September 3 to 6.

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