2022 Holiday Hack Challenge!

2022 Holiday Hack Challenge!
It's the most wonderful time of the year

It's that time of year - the Holiday Hack Challenge is upon us! For the the uninitiated, it's an annual SANS' annual free CTF, that is fun for all skill levels.  Below are some tips on how to sign up, as well as words of encouragement if you're hesitating at all.  One of the best parts about cybersecurity is how gamified it can be - so you actually have fun while learning. Be sure to jump in and enjoy SANS' gift to the community!

You can sign up here. It might also be useful to visit the SANS Holiday Hack page, where you can read more about the challenge.

Additionally, there is a contest this year - with the possibility of winning a NetWars Continous Subscription (SANS' Cyber Range), a free SANS Online Course, or even some Holiday Hack swag! All you need to do to enter is submit a report with a description on how you solvd each objective.  Submission can be provided via e-mail, or the google form.  See the SANS Holiday Hack page for details.  I know I'm planning to share my writeups from this year's event here in the coming weeks!


  • If you have any interest in signing up, do it. It's free, and SANS does a stellar job in gamifying their cyber ranges/CTFs.  The first CTF I took part in was a SANS NetWars, I had avoided them thinking I wasn't technically skilled enough to participate - and I was wrong.   SANS makes the challenges fun and accessible for all skill levels, in all domains, worst case scenario you can always get help - which leads to the next tip...
  • Join the Discord Server! Its a great resource where you can access channels for each of the challenges.  If you get stuck you can ask for assistance, dig through previous conversations for tips and nudges.  You can even join a team on the #looking-for-a-team channel.
  • Explore the virtual world - your character will be able to move around.  The toughest part to get started might be getting used to how to know where to go, or access the web terminals.  Just remember to click on any character with their name in green (above their avatar) for tips, the rings in the center of your avatar or on the banner on the left hand side of the screen for guidance on what to do next.
  • Have fun! This isn't meant to be a CTF that is impossible to solve. On the contrary, it's intended to get people more exposed to more technical domains within cybersecurity.

Update: Walkthroughs are Published!

Since it's now after January 7th, the date SANS' had requested folks hold off in sharing walkthroughs - I've published mine! Below are some links for easy reference.

  • Orientation - Useful if you are brand new to HHC!
  • Tolkien Ring - The first of the 5 rings needed. Be sure to check out the pro tip at the beginning of the article to make your life easier down the road
  • Elfen Ring
  • Web Ring - Probably the trickiest of the rings, with some of the most time consuming challenges of the entire HHC.
  • Cloud Ring
  • Ring of Fire - It's natural to read this walkthrough with Johnny Cash stuck in your head