We then split them into teams with a mix of skills and experience. Each team includes MWR employees from our offices across the globe, members of the company’s intern schemes as well as Cyber Security professionals working across the industry.
We split them into teams for a number of reasons, but the primary reason is to form groups of a size that facilitates effective team working within the constraints of the event’s duration. Remember that our primary objective is learning and sharing of skills and we’ve found our team structure to be highly effective in enabling that
Having teams also enables us to introduce a competitive aspect to the event, but in a manner that doesn’t then overshadow its primary aims. The kudos and bragging rights associated with being on the winning team drives people to engage and gives a purpose that’s tough to create purely by having a scenario and a mission to complete. However, the competitive element is always carefully tuned so that the most effective way of working is as a cohesive team rather than a bunch of lone wolves working on the challenges they are already knowledgeable about. But this is such an interesting topic that we can’t do justice to here and it will be the subject of a future article on this site.
The final reason for having teams is purely for logistical and practical reasons. We have a wide range of challenges and with some of these the teams need to take it in turn to use the equipment. This means that teams get to experience all the challenges in a fair and equal manner.
Over the years we’ve been running HackFu we’ve learned that you should never try and solve too many problems in one go. So each year we’ve taken what worked well from previous years and enhanced it to add another dimension to the event. As a result we quickly learned that in order to have a competitive event, that’s fun, challenging and immersive and at the same time give attendees maximum opportunity to learn from their experiences you need the right people there. What we mean by that is that the people who attend need to be fundamentally bought into the concept of sharing and learning as their primary focus. We also learned that if you have a core of people who share this attitude and demonstrate great leadership to others then everyone else quickly gets on-board with the concept. So as the concept of information sharing and teaching is intrinsic to MWR people then they need to make up the core contingent of the event.
What we then want to achieve is to throw into that mix a variety of new skills and thinking that we can get from our specially invited guests and competition winners. These people then enhance the natural culture that exists at the event and widens the base of skills, approaches and styles that we observe.
Therefore, by carefully selecting the attendees it is possible to create an environment where skills and experience are passed on through personal interaction and close working relationships, rather than by more traditional classroom based teaching. But that’s not all that need to happen to achieve our objectives.
We have also found through experience that we get the right learning outcomes by immersing the people we have selected in a complex environment with clear ground rules and purpose. We then need them to engage in structured and planned activities which are specifically designed to enable them to reflect on what they have learned. When this is done well it’s a great tool for equipping them with the right skills and more importantly the right attitude to security, the HackFu Mind as we refer to it. It also enables us to showcase how we do this to other people working in our industry which is a key part of our approach to recruitment and makes a great business case to get the money needed to put on a show like this!