Ada's 2nd Challenge

Congratulations, you've successfully completed Ada's challenge and have unlocked some hidden content here on MWR's HackFu website. As you hopefully saw, the puzzle didn't require much technical knowledge but did require you to look at data in a new way and to follow the trail that it was leading you along. This approach is at the heart of many of the cyber security problems that we face every day and if you enjoyed the process then maybe there is a cyber security role out there for you. 

You'll have seen that there were just a handful of innovators featured in the wordsearch that brought you here. There is a long list of women who have followed in Ada's footsteps and made a difference to the world as we know it. You may not be familiar with their accomplishments so we've included a short profile of each here along with their impact on the computing and cyber security industries.

Ada Lovelace

The star of our story is well known to many, including those who have coded in the language named after her. Considered to be the first computer programmer, Ada was a mathematician who worked on Charles Babbage's analytical engine. This machine was the first of its kind and could process calculations mechanically, and although it was never actually completed in her lifetime, she was one of the first people to understand the potential of a computing machine beyond the task of just performing calculations.

Grace Hopper

One of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark 2 computer and the inventor of the first compiler for a programming language. Also her support for machine independent programming languages led to the development of COBOL. This language has been used extensively in the finance sector and continues to underpin many of the financial systems we use today. Grace was even the first person to coin the word 'bug', a now ubiquitous term. 

Mary Keller

Sister Mary Keller was an educator who specialised in the field of mathematics and computing and participated in the development of the BASIC programming language. Many of us began our love affair with the computer program with something like: 10 PRINT "I rule" 20 GOTO 10 and have Mary to thank for that. She is considered the first woman to get a doctorate in Computer Science and saw the potential for computers to promote educational access across a global audience.

Melanie Rieback

Melanie is a computer scientist specialising in the area of RFID and privacy. She created the first malicious RFID tags to show that attacks against back-end systems were possible. By altering the data returned from a malicious RFID tag a large number of potential vulnerabilities can be exploited from cross site scripting and SQL injection all the way through to remote code execution.

Susan Nycum

Whilst having trained as a lawyer, Susan also had an early interest in computer security. This interest led to collaboration with an Infosec researcher Donn Parker, with whom she was amongst the first people to document and record computer related crime. This extensive work ultimately led to the passing of laws to cover this area in the United States.

Raven Alder

Raven was an aspiring whitehat hacker at the time she became the first woman to give a presentation at the DEFCON hacker’s conference, run every year in Las Vegas. She designs, tests and audits intrusion detection systems and is best known for tracing spoofed DDOS attacks.

These are just a handful of innovators that you may not be so aware of. We hope that this puzzle has enabled you to learn a little bit more about their achievements. 

The Dilemma of the Two Eggs

If you enjoyed the first part of our puzzle then you'll be pleased to know that we've got a second part for you to attempt! As we indicated in the original article, we'd like to show how you can take your first steps towards a role in cyber security. In that spirit, this puzzle is one that you can solve by writing a short program, as well as a there being a solution that can be found through reasoning. Take a look at the details and to help you out we've included some links to resources that will help if you're taking your first steps to writing code.

You are given a pair of eggs, and access to a building with 100 floors. Both of your eggs are identical. The aim is to find out the highest story from which one of your two eggs will not break when dropped out of the outside window on that floor. If an egg is dropped and does not break, it is undamaged and can be dropped again. However, once an egg is broken its gone and can't be used again. If an egg breaks when dropped from floor n, then it would also have broken from any floor above that. If an egg survives a fall, then it will survive any fall shorter than that.The question is: What strategy should you adopt to minimize the number of egg drops it takes to find the solution and what is the worst case for the number of drops it will take?Don't overthink it, there are no tricks or plays on words here. This is a maths problem, not physics, so DON'T worry about terminal velocity, or wind resistance. As such its a perfect candidate for writing a short program to help you determine the worst-case minimum number of egg drops that will successfully determine the floor at which the eggs break, no matter which floor that is. The great thing about this puzzle is that you can pretty much use any language you want. So either choose your favourite language or take the opportunity to learn a new one. But be warned, don't just go diving in and writing code, you'll still need to work out the right approach for tackling the puzzle.

Never coded before? Then we'd recommend you take a look at a resource like the Code Academy and begin your coding journey right now.

If you'd like to find know what the solution to this problem is then we recommend that you sign up to the HackFu mailing list. We'll be sending out details of the solution to our mailing list in a few weeks time and if you're subscribed you'll also get early access to all the latest HackFu news and puzzles.

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