03 June, 2024

Unleashing the Power of Hackathons

Unleashing the Power of Hackathons
Andrew Kates
Author: Andrew Kates

What is a Hackathon?
A security hackathon is a structured event where we collaborate with clients to solve various cybersecurity challenges.  While the term “hackathon” traditionally refers to a limited social event where developers create radical new applications or proof-of-concept work, in this context, it will signify a focused and intensive engagement.  Unlike conventional penetration tests, a security hackathon supplements strong IT practices by bringing together our experts and a client’s team to identify vulnerabilities in real-time.

These engagements are typically two to three day events where we’ll give staff a foundational understanding of the best methods for penetration testing, examining application and system flaws, and the most efficient ways to resolve them.  We’ll then walk-through various attacks and security tests against a client’s systems, as well as attacks against pre-built, vulnerable systems and applications.  This training focuses heavily on understanding both exploitation and what IT staff will encounter when these attacks occur.  

Why Opt for a Hackathon?
Hackathons offer clients a tremendous opportunity to combine hands-on teaching with a traditional penetration testing engagement.  The key value of the hackathon is in how we impart knowledge to IT staff in the context of the applications and services they work to secure every day.  It's about understanding exploitation, recognizing red flags, and enhancing skill sets to stay one step ahead of potential threats. By operating within the client's environment, we leverage firsthand insights to uncover vulnerabilities that may have eluded traditional testing methodologies.  This hands-on approach not only accelerates vulnerability identification, but also fosters a deeper understanding of potential threats.  By the end of the engagement, your team should feel newly empowered to assess threats, identify vulnerabilities, and protect your assets.

Planning and Executing a Hackathon
Prior to the start of class, detailed planning discussions are required to determine what technologies and systems are in-use, and to outline the various topics of the hackathon.  Once the goals of the exercise have been defined, we craft a tailored attack strategy for your specific needs.  From there, it’s time to dive in, as we evaluate your infrastructure, poking and prodding for weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Along the way, we provide hands-on demonstrations, walking through various attacks against and tests of their systems.

Short, Sweet, Effective
Unlike other testing engagements that span weeks, a hackathon is a sprint, emphasizing education, collaboration, and skill development.  This condensed timeline doesn't compromise effectiveness; rather, it maximizes efficiency, delivering actionable insights in record time.  Secure Ideas’ mission is to provide the preeminent testing experience for all of our clients, so if you’re in the market for a penetration test or a learning opportunity such as a hackathon, please reach out to us today.

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