HackFu Challenge 2017

Welcome to the annual HackFu challenge where you can test yourself against some fiendish puzzles and potentially win some great prizes including the opportunity to attend one of this year's events. The challenges are open to everyone, ranging in difficulty from trivial to diabolical, and will test your problem solving ability, lateral thinking and technical skills. However, there are some terms and conditions relating to the competition and how the prizes will be awarded (see below). 

As always, this year's set of challenges will require creative approaches and elegant solutions in the true hacker spirit. There are ten challenges in all, covering a wide range of technical subjects and areas of cyber security. 

As always, the challenges follow a unique storyline  this year, it starts like this:

Ever since you first looked up at the millions of stars in the night sky, you've known that humanity cannot be alone in such a massive universe. And you've known that they – whatever they are – are closer than the common person could imagine. Aliens exist, they're here, and someone is covering it up.

Every sceptical explanation for UFO sightings, crop circles and spaceship crashes you've heard is like an octagon in a circular hole – it has to be forced, and it leaves gaps. You've never accepted these explanations. On some basic level, you know the truth, and only need to prove it.

Now you've gotten closer than ever before, and someone out there doesn't like it. You'll be dead within days unless you can figure out who's after you and what they're trying to hide. A guarded storehouse – an attempt on your life – a mysterious cult – and a series of fiendish logic puzzles. You'll need to crack all of the Hackfu Challenges to find out just what the whole truth is. But can you handle it?

You can download the challenge file here, and then visit the challenge website to find out more!

Download the Challenge files here

Solving each challenge will give you a passphrase, which can be used to decrypt the solution file for that challenge. In addition to the second part of the story, this file will give you a challenge codename, which can then be submitted along with the email address you used to register and a detailed description of how you solved the challenge (very important!). Each submission will improve your standing on the Hackfu Challenges leaderboard, and increase your chance to win fabulous prizes!


Register to participate in the competition by following the instructions contained in mwr-hackfu-challenge-2017.txt within the challenge file you download. All accepted entrants will stand a chance to win an invitation to one of MWR's 2017 HackFu events (held in the UK and South Africa). Additionally, special prizes are available for South African university students. For full details please take a look at the prizes page on the challenge website.

Competition Rules

There are no restrictions on downloading the challenges; however, in order to be eligible to enter the competition and be in the running for the prizes the following rules apply.

  • The HackFu Challenge will run from 20 February to 22 May 2017. 
  • Entrants who submit the best writeups (decided by MWR judges) to the most challenges will be declared the winners of the HackFu Challenge, with all the honour and glory that entails!
  • Entrants must download the challenge files to be able to take part.
  • Entrants must register for the competition according to the registration instructions given in the challenge files.
  • Entrants eligible for the South African student category must indicate this in their signup email, and provide a valid student ID before they can receive any prizes.
  • Entrants must submit all solutions before 22 May 2017.
  • Entrants must be 18 years old or over on 22 May 2017.
  • All entrants will be added to the official HackFu mailing list so you can receive updates and exclusive content. If you would not like to be added to this list please indicate this in your signup email.
  • All prizes are ultimately awarded at the discretion of MWR, judges’ decisions are final and any prize offered to an entrant cannot be exchanged for cash or favours.

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