16 April 2020

Hacking in Goa with Synack’s Best

Tracy Bidot

As chilly March temps lingered across much of the globe, several Synack Red Team members delighted in the warmth of Goa, India, a destination where endless summers prevail. With beaches, sunshine, and tropical breezes beckoning at the location of our second 2020 HackerHangout, participants zeroed in on their primary pursuit – live hacking on exclusive targets for the opportunity to win the second guaranteed spot in the #Road2Tokyo SRT Challenge – the year’s culminating event!

The Goa HackerHangout, the second of three regional events, included ten SRT representing Africa, India, New Zealand, and Australia who had earned their spots via a pre-qualifying competition. Additional SRT from surrounding areas were also welcomed to RSVP, and some were selected to attend the live hacking sessions and participate in all event activities.

The diverse group of dedicated Synack researchers, representing five different countries, brought out the best in one another in what was yet another nail-biting competition. However, after two days of intense live hacking and inspiring SRT spirit, a winner would emerge – Mostafa Soliman would top the leaderboard and earn the second spot to our crowning event, currently planned for Tokyo (Dates and locations now contingent on pandemic issues/timelines).

Mostafa doesn’t fit the somewhat outdated stereotype of the black-hoodied hacker, but he won’t turn an awesome hoodie down if he gets the chance. He’s soft-spoken yet direct, focused yet friendly – just the kind of researcher you’d want to solve problems with, and solve problems he did. You could see his mind in motion at all times, even during quiet lunch breaks or while hacking from the veranda. You could practically see his fingers twitch for keys to record his latest internal revelation.

While the focus was on targets, vulns and climbing the board, the group did enjoy a bit of R&R, putting their mark on the town at night! Warm, sunny days of uninterrupted live hacking, were celebrated with lively outings featuring a casino cruise, group dinners, laughter over live music, 80s cover bands and cocktails. Well earned, indeed!

With the Austin and Goa events now in the books, only one regional event remains – the virtual Europe HackerHangout, formerly Lausanne, in May. And the question is… Who will emerge the winner earning the third spot at our crowning HackerHangout event? With additional spots still to be filled, the next few months will also feature additional awarded seats via a SRT-Only CTF, one last qualifying competition and recognition program winner(s).

Do you have what it takes to join fellow SRT for the sweetest HackerHangout event of 2020? Apply for the Synack Red Team Today! #CanYouHackIt