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Ready? Set? Control-Alt-Hack!

  • 26 July 2012
  • Written by 
  • Published in Security

A new game for 14 - 30 year-olds helps to teach hacking skills (hopefully of the white hat variety).

To be presented by its creators at this week's Black Hat conference in Las Vegas, the game Control-Alt-Hack offers an educational opportunity to understand the methods and ethics of hacking.

To quote from the session abstract: You and your fellow players work for Hackers, Inc.: a small, elite computer security company of ethical, white hat hackers that perform security audits and provide consultation services. Their Motto: You Pay Us to Hack You.

The abstract continues: Each person plays as a white hat hacker at a company that performs security audits and provides consulting services. Your job is centered around Missions -- tasks that require you to apply your hacker skills (Hardware Hacking, Software Wizardry, Network Ninja, Social Engineering, Cryptanalysis, Forensics, and more) and a bit of luck in order to succeed. You gain Hacker Cred by successfully completing Missions ("Disinformation Debacle," "Mr. Botneto", "e-Theft Auto") and you lose Hacker Cred when you fail. Entropy cards help you along the way with advantages that you can purchase ("Superlative Visualization Software") and unexpected obstacles that you can use to thwart other players ("Failed to Document"). Gain enough Hacker Cred, and you win fame and fortune as the CEO of your very own consulting company.

Created by University of Washington Associate Professor Tadayoshi Kohno, the game is intended to give teens and young adults a taste of what it means to operate in the world of computer security professionals attempting to defend against a range of digital threats.

Some readers might know Kohno as the person who caused a networked printer to receive a DCMA takedown notice (for supposedly downloading a copy of Iron Man). He also conducted the first security of the Diebold electronic voting machine software. Prior to his time in academia, Kohno worked with Bruce Schneier at Counterpane Systems and co-wrote (with Schneier and Niels Ferguson) the book "Cryptographic Engineering."

Currently, there are free copies of the game available for US-based educators (sorry, Australia!), for everyone else, the game may be obtained in a couple of months' time for around $US30 at locations to be announced.

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