This weekend we participated in the qualification round for one of the largest international computer security competitions, Codegate.

Hosted in Korea, Codegate 2011 attracted hundreds of teams from all around the world. The problems consisted of web vulnerabilities, forensics, cryptography, binary reversing, and some problems related to security topics that had been in the news. Sadly this meant there were almost no problems featuring binary exploitation, which is one of our strongest areas of expertise. Regardless, there were some really interesting and challenging problems for us to work on.

Sadly, as this was an international competition, it started at a really obnoxious time for those teams from America, at lovely 7am.

We had some incredibly tough competition this year. Sutegoma, Hates Irony, Disekt, GoN, Plus, int3pids, Playtronics, and Leetmore were all beating us at one point or another over the 48 hour game. While of course it would be nice to be in first the entire time, it’s also good to have other teams around to keep us on our feet! Overall, we did not do too great in solving challenges quickly, amassing only a few breakthrough points, though Sutegoma and Leetmore were both incredibly quick at solving challenges immediately.

It was also a bit frustrating that challenges were released very slowly, which left us with no choice but to keep scratching our heads on the same problems for hours. Luckily we got a short break from the monotony of problem solving for a while to enjoy some fun moments in IRC. As the competition came to an end and the sun started to rise, our problem solving abilities unfortunately diminished greatly.

With the help of caffeine and loud music, we were able to scrape a few more points through, finishing up a few more problems in the wee hours of the morning. While we managed to narrowly beat out Disekt, we still ended up in third place behind Sutegoma and Hates Irony. I guess that just means we’ll need to beat them in the final round!

All in all, we had a good time at Codegate, and we’re looking forward to meeting our new challengers, and seeing teams coming back from last year. Although having lots of diversity in the teams last year was nice as a cultural experience, having three teams form the USA in the top eight teams world wide is pretty awesome.

I strongly recommend reading some of Leetmore’s writeups (who solved a lot of problems in ways we didn’t think about), as well as Hates Irony’s writeups.