Listen to me ramble.

Trace Labs CTF @ BSidesTO 2019 - Securing the Win!

  I think it's important to start off letting you know that I came into this CTF with a grudge. I was mad. "Why were you mad?" you might ask. The answer to that question is simple. I was mad at myself. You see, this was my second local Missing Persons CTF @ Trace Labs. My first event had ended with us in almost coming up in first place, that is, only until the judges decided to dock us points by removing some of our team's submissions. To be more specific, some of my submissions. Fourth place wasn't going to cut it this time. I was on a mission to secure this win, come hell or high water. After booting up my laptop and some difficulty connecting to the network (Goddamnit Trace Labs work on load balancing next time) I was ready to begin.

  For those of you who aren't aware, Trace Lab's Missing Person OSINT CTF is a competition where hackers use Open Source Intelligence (or OSINT for short) to help find missing persons. The goal isn't necessarily to find these people, aiding the police with information that pertains to the missing individuals in question, as well as to their recent whereabouts will also grant you points. The event is run in conjunction with Toronto Police's Cyber Division and there are officers actively looking into the submissions given by the contestants. Usually 6-8 missing persons from around the Greater Toronto Area of various ages & ethnicities. Minimal information is included in each briefing that consists of the individuals: name, age, photo and a news article regarding their disappearance. From there it is up to us to provide information about these individuals to the judges, who will confirm that they are valid with evidence that is satisfactory and then submit the information to the police.

  Our team, appropriately named "Microwave Gang" sparked some conversation as we RSVP'd at the venue. We were the team that had almost taken home the bacon last time. The team that had previously won was in attendance. That was A-OK. We were going beat them this time. My team members, Nervous Pupper, PoorTheodore and a fourth team member who hadn't attended with us previously RSec were ready. This was it, we could do this.

  For the first couple hours, progress was incredibly slow. Teams were barely scraping together any information. The sad truth about these missing people is that they tend to be loners. That means a low social media/online presence, which isn't good for neither them nor us. We were in the top five teams, and things weren't looking too great. I, however, was not going down without a fight. I have a tactic. It isn't a good tactic, but a tactic nonetheless. I needed to find our "Bokstein". A term I coined after finding a treasure trove of important information in obscure places. I needed to find the person that had a secret online presence. It isn't easy, but if you can identify the individual with such an online presence, it tends to snowball into a lot of submissions of various information. With those submissions come the points we needed to secure first place.

  I'm happy to say this story has a happy ending. We indeed did find our "Bokstein". After scouring the internet, we found that one of our missing individuals had a very nosey friend. Said friend, we found out, has a youtube video chock full of videos depicting our missing individual... committing crimes! Welp, that wasn't for us to deal with. The police would sort out what to do with our copper thief when they found him. Looking into these videos, we found some amazing information. Not only did we find the address of where this person was staying undocumented, but we also found a license plate. One registered to a stolen vehicle. Our subject was using it to transport copper that he had stolen from buildings to a warehouse that he used to process and sell it. Bingo. We were now in first place. This information along with some other tidbits allowed us to maintain our position. The timer ran out, the judges processed some last-minute submissions. We were declared the winners along with the mention that the license plate was given to the police, who had managed to track it down. Unfortunately, the missing person wasn't home, but we were told the police had it under good authority that he would be returning soon. Sweet.

  As a small afterword, I would like to note that this is my first article on my new site! Thanks to everyone reading for giving me the motivation to write. It isn't something I get to do often and it's rather difficult for me. I look forward to improving my writing in order to make more enjoyable content. Toodles!

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