January 22, 2009

Penetration Testing Challenge: Santa Claus is Hacking to Town

This past holidays Ed Skoudis published one of his always interesting, amusing, and educational thematic security challenges at the Ethical Hacker Network: "Santa Claus is Hacking to Town". The last one I participated in was in mid-late 2006, although I was a huge fan of them since 2003. This time the challenge was penetration testing focused, rather than incident handling based, so I decided to play and enjoy it. Honestly, from all the security services I offer, penetration testing has taken an increasingly significant percentage of my time during the last years. There is a clear need in the industry for more pen-testers.

I suggest you to read the challenge wording and try to solve it before reading the official solution and answers. You can get some hints by reading the first paper referenced at the end of this post (Ed told me he published them there on purpose to help people out with the challenge), although it is funniest to solve it from scratch :)

You can find my submission here. I also generated (out of the contest) a second version of the paper that includes the challenge text, my official solution, and an appendix with a simpler and direct solution to the challenge, plus the reasons why it was not included as my final submission. Definitely, I could have been stealthier by providing the "-n" option to all the netcat relay instances in order to disable DNS resolution.

Complementary, my Inguardian's friends recently released two penetration testing papers you might be interested in: "Secrets of America's Top Pentesters" (Ed) and "Vista Wireless Power Tools for the Penetration Tester" (Joshua). I strongly recommend both!
Raul Siles

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