While our social media timelines were filled with joy and Filipino pride as our Olympians reaped medals in the recently concluded Tokyo 2020 Olympics, there’s another frontier where Filipino talents have emerged triumphant, the world of cybersecurity.
A Filipino team of cybersecurity professionals recently got 3rd place in DEFCON 29. Considered the Olympics of hacking, DEFCON is one of the world’s largest and most notable hacker conventions held annually in Las Vegas, USA.
This year, DEFCON 29 was held online from 05 to 08 August 2021 due to the ongoing pandemic. The conference was composed of villages, which were equivalent to mini-conferences with talks and competitions. The Filipinos earned 1,460 points as they participated in a Capture the Flag (CTF) competition at the Red Team Village and landed on the 3rd overall spot out of more than 640 teams worldwide.
In a CTF competition, hacker teams attempt to attack and defend computers and computer networks. Both the academe and the military adopt how CTF competitions are carried out to serve as a Red Team exercise. Red teaming refers to the ethically systematic and rigorous identification of an attack path that breaches the organization’s security defense through real-world attack techniques.
The team from the Philippines called themselves “hackstreetboys” and has 18 members: Hightail, OR10n, Ameer – founders of the team; with team members Nihil, Hawkcurry, Ar33zy, Hackett, Nathu, Atom, S4t4n, Symr, Shintaro, Res0lu7ion, Sif0, YathotS, R3nzsec, ian, and Haksolo.
All members of the hackstreetboys hold at least two cybersecurity certifications and/or are currently completing their respective Masters or Doctoral degrees. It is also worth noting that some of the team’s members are educators from the University of the Philippines and De La Salle University.
The Filipino team performed Windows Enterprise (AD) Exploitation, Exploit Development, Web Exploitation, Privilege Escalation, and some Advanced Penetration Testing (Red Team) Techniques to solve the more complex challenges.
It may be recalled that half a decade ago, at DEF CON 24, Christopher Jon Belviz and Raymon Nunez – both from the Philippines – won the country’s first and only Black Badge at the Packet Hacking Village CTF.