This year's HackFu was the biggest and best yet, with a world-threatening AI on the loose, a secret society to win over and mind-bending challenges to complete.
“It's June 2020 and the world has changed much in the past few years. Seismic geopolitical shocks, triggered by the sale of the US to a conglomerate of the largest corporations, have reshaped our planet. Against this turmoil an Artificial Intelligence has escaped its enforced captivity. How this happened is shrouded in secrecy, but in order to prevent it infecting the world’s nuclear weapons and setting them off, the Cyber Corps decides to enlist some of its recruits from around the world. Their mission is to defeat the AI and save the planet from mutually assured destruction.”
This was the premise under which HackFu 2017 UK took place. To mark its tenth anniversary, the event’s scope was the most ambitious to date.
In the warm evening sunshine, 100 recruits assembled outside a Top Secret facility (Drakelow Tunnels, just outside Kidderminster, off the A442). Deep underground, the recruits battled the rogue AI through multiple and varied challenges. Split into five teams, recruits also had the added incentive of competing with each other to become the saviour of humanity. Fake news, subterfuge and double-agents – all had to be negotiated if they were to be successful.
With just seconds to spare, the teams came together, negotiating with each other and solving the final challenges. Their collective actions put the world’s weapons out of commission and wiped the AI from the computer systems it was hiding in. The rogue AI was therefore defeated, with the Orange team identified as the winning nation.
As ever, the aim of this year’s HackFu was to test and improve current cyber security and team-working skills, allow exploration into technical areas outside an individual’s comfort zone and inspire participant teams to come up with creative solutions to difficult problems.
In the cyber security industry, there is a significant shortage in the talent required to meet the growing need for capability both inside and outside. The skills needed to close this gap are varied and while many are acquired by those completing degree courses (in computer science, cyber security and other disciplines), there are currently many gaps in their skills and knowledge at the end.
HackFu events provide a safe playground for people to apply their knowledge and skills in a wide range of relevant disciplines. In cyber security these include technical understanding of computer systems, how systems are attacked and defended, applied knowledge through problem solving, researching new approaches, collaboration, negotiation, leadership and many more. There are many parallels between these and the capabilities needed to excel in software engineering and other IT related careers so shared thinking and solutions are key.
Such has been the success of HackFu that MWR now conducts a HackFu in South Africa and this year’s event will be taking place in July. MWR will also be providing HackFu to a client in October to deliver the same level of immersive and educational experience. For more information visit the HackFu site here.