By Martyn Ruks
By now you’ll have heard about the cyber-security training event we run each year. One purpose of the event is to develop and refine methods of teaching the skills needed to address the cyber-security challenges we’re facing now and will continue to into the future. However, as HackFu is such an immersive and challenging experience how do you get the most out of it? The answer is to prepare for it in the right way and go there with your A-game.
So how do you prepare for HackFu? That’s a question we often get asked by those who haven’t attended before, as well as from a few who have! There is no single answer to that question. But we’d like to provide some suggestions and when reading them it’s important for you to remember that whilst HackFu is a cyber-security event it’s not all about hacking as we’ve highlighted in previous articles.
1. Escape Games
If you live in London you’ll probably have heard about the current craze for “escape games”. These are games where a small group is locked inside a room and set the challenge of escaping by searching for clues, solving puzzles and generally demonstrating both mental and physical dexterity. This type of activity is perfect preparation for HackFu as it develops teamwork, lateral thinking and lets you use all of your guile and cunning to achieve a clearly defined objective. If you want to know more then take a look at the following article from Timeout(we’d also like to say hi to our friends at ClueQuest and Hint Hunt).
2. Online CTFs
Being a cyber security event you’ll definitely need some hacking skills on your
team if you are going to triumph. If you want to be one of the technical elite
at the event then it will serve you well to hone your skills with some competitive
and legal hacking.
There are now a multitude of online hacking and capture the flag sites that you
can have a crack at. If you’re feeling really adventurous then take a look at
one of our favourites.
Its sometimes easy to fall into the trap of thinking that being good at quizzes is all about remembering facts. However, that’s not the case and a good quizzer will have an approach that includes general knowledge as a foundation but also applies an approach to “good guessing”. This technique involves giving yourself the percentage chance to guess right answer by identifying the constraints and parameters inside which the answer fits. By doing this you can find your way to answers you would not have found otherwise. This is a very useful skill to have and one that will serve you well at HackFu where the most difficult part of the puzzle is sometimes in working out how it should be solved. The same skills you employ when answering questions in your favourite quizzes should therefore be sharpened prior to attendance. You can play safe and opt for old favourites like University Challenge on BBC2 or Brain of Britain on BBC Radio 4. Alternatively you can turn things up a notch by listening to Round Britain Quiz on Radio 4 or our personal favourite, Only Connect, now in its new home on BBC2.
Fans of the latter won’t need any excuse to watch it every week but for everyone else what better incentive is there for watching a bit of early evening TV than HackFu glory.
4. Cryptic Crosswords
These are often a very black or white affair (coughs to cover up the satisfaction of making this pun) as you either know how to solve them or you don’t. There isn’t really a middle ground here but that’s not a problem. The type of logic and strict rules used by particular crossword setters, are also commonly encountered in challenges that are to be found at HackFu. So it won’t do you any harm at all to pull out a crossword or two and a freshly sharpened pencil on your journey to the event. So if you know why the answer to “HIJKLMNO” (5) is WATER or “A bar of soap” (6,6) is ROVERS RETURN then this is the preparation for you. So no matter what your skills or background there will be a HackFu preparation technique that works for you. It will also be no surprise that these are some of the skills that we find in those who are thinking with the HackFu Mind. So even if you aren’t lucky enough to be coming to HackFu, you can use these types of activity to develop your own awesomeness and equip you with the skills and way of thinking that’s needed in this industry. If you are in a position to tech others these skills then that would be even better..
Who said learning wasn’t fun?
In our opening article we discuss how we see the problem space and what some of the challenges are so given all of that, what are we looking to achieve with this website.
As we said previously we don’t claim to know all the solutions but we are certainly trying things that will enable us to find them. Along the way we’ll learn lots of lessons, we’ll no doubt have a few false starts but we’ll also get some stuff right. It’s that journey that we’re going to share on this site, including all the initiatives and events that we’re planning to run to support it all.
We don’t know yet exactly what will be on this site but the one thing we’re certain of is that it will be thought provoking, philosophical, challenging and most importantly it will be fun and engaging. We’ll get techie at times, something we make no apology for, as well as extracting the concepts and key points that we encounter along the way.
We also want your help on our journey. We want you to tell us your thoughts and experiences of what we’re doing and hopefully some stories about how you’ve taken our ideas and turned them into your own projects, events and general awesomeness. We want to know the good, the bad and the ugly and to get involved please get in contact via Twitter and then keep coming back to this hub for more insight and information.
So hold on tight, this will be a wild ride for all of us.