Hacker Olympics 2016 at MakeRīga hackerspace

An event our hackerspace organised

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A year and a half ago, an event vaguely falling within the confines of the term "Hacking Olympics" was organized at the local hackerspace in Riga, Latvia. The event attracted give or take 15 people, everybody who attended and organised the said event had a lot of fun. It was determined to be repeated the following year.

This year the event was organised again and we just want to spill the beans and let you replicate the recipe on how to create an event that brings together the local community for an awesome, fun filled weekend. As opposed to the previous years' event we had attracted 38 participants and 32 challenges to solve. The previous year we had only 23 challenges IIRC.

The format seems to be working well and we suggest that every hackerspace around the world tries to organize one such event at least once a year. Depending on what the expected skill level of the attendees is- try and limit the number of relatively "simple" challenges or categorize the winners. It's pretty easy to organize if everyone pitches in a few hours of their life to make it happen.

To encourage the attendees to compete, try and get some cool prizes. This year we got some pretty cool wireless tech from Ubiquiti and gift cards from Ian and Jin from . Some other companies helped us as well, by keeping us fed or entertained.

Most likely every hackerspace can find a like minded company (or a manager in one) to give some cool stuff or service to win. It doesn't hurt to ask, you know?

What kind of challenges did we set up for the contestants?

  • Lockpicking and solving wire&metal puzzles
  • Binary (.EXE and .JAR) cracking
  • Exploiting various vulnerabilities
  • Cracking wireless networks and spoofing ARP/DNS/NTP/etc.
  • Intercepting and decoding RF transmissions
  • Speed typing on either PC keyboard or typewriter
  • Social engineering and circumventing tamper-proof tech
  • Circuit reverse-engineering
  • Decoding simple ciphers and steganography

Proceed to the work-logs to read more!

  • About the event in general

    Arya12/09/2016 at 18:08 0 comments

    • Participation: 38 participants
    • Attendance: unknown. Some people visited the place just to see what's happening, and some people solved challenges just for fun, without registering.

    • Hackerspace members collectively developed challenges for participants to solve.
    • Pick a challenge and start solving it, that's all to it (of course, without disturbing other participants).
    • Unconventional ways of solving challenges are encouraged up to some extents, which would be breaking the challenge so that others won't be able to use it and sharing answers, as well as anything unforeseen that'd be deemed as unsportsmanlike by the judges.

    • Two days of hacking, start at 13:37 and end next day at 19:00
    • Kaspersky Labs agreed to supply us with pizza to fuel our hacking efforts

    • We've had various gadgets as awards from our sponsors for first 3 places, as well as participation awards for places 4 and 5

      Some photos:

      Starting the competition: briefing

      First day of work, solving challenges and fixing WiFi issues

      Putting the shredded paper together

      Probing the cubes



      Second day, close to the finish line

      Some young visitors

    • Speed typing

      Arya11/09/2016 at 03:59 0 comments

      Challenge 23: SPEED TYPING 1

      A mechanical keyboard, a Raspberry Pi and a widescreen monitor seem to make a nice speed typing contest rig when put together. Read more »

    • Reverse-engineering

      Arya11/09/2016 at 03:52 0 comments


      Put a marked card on the reader and a tune plays from inside the box the wires from the reader go to. Make it play this tune without using the marked card.

      Read more »

    • WiFi, DNS, IoT, NTP...

      Arya11/09/2016 at 03:38 0 comments

      Challenge 7: HIPSTER IOT CLOCK

      An ESP clock with an OLED, which seems to deserve the "HIPSTER" tag. Of course it uses NTP, why wouldn't it? And why wouldn't you make it skip the time a little bit forward if the task says so?

      Read more »

    • Binary cracking

      Arya11/09/2016 at 03:30 0 comments

      Challenge 6: JAVA BREAKING

      As much as I'd want to say Java is already broken, that's the challenge and you've got to get it done. .jar file provided - can't be sure it won't run malicious code on your computer, of course, but the idea of this event is to have fun and we gotta have sure you will.

      Read more »

    • Social engineering and tamper protection circumvention

      Arya11/09/2016 at 03:22 0 comments

      Challenge 2: PROBLEMS WITH YOUR PC?

      It's hard enough to configure a computer, it's even harder to get someone to assist you. Fortunately, there seems to be a steady supply of people promising to solve all of your computer woes with just the right amount of money deposited into their bank account, after which you're going to get access to their exclusive piece of crap PC speed up tools, 0.5/2 assistance (as opposed to 24/7), as well as a feeling of money not so well spent. If you can call one of those guys and tick all of the boxes in our "Scammer bingo" sheet, you deserve all of the hacker cred for entertaining the public, as well as up to 10 points in our challenge.

      Challenge 22: DUMPSTER DIVE

      Ever thought of those guys FBI employs to sit and recover shredded documents all day long? Now you can feel like one by doing this tedious job for us (and we save a lot of money). Can you recover the document and get the information you need or are you going to quit after your breathing sends pieces of paper flying across the room for the tenth time?

      Pictured: a template of the page we had, one of bags with paper that was supplied to people and two successful attempts at solving this.

      Challenge 26: THERE'S A BUG IN YOUR WARRANTY 1

      Those stickers that leave glue and "VOID" all over your tech when you disassemble it? We've got a roll of those, and we want you to finally unglue one of them without ruining the sticker. Do you have the patience or are you going to fuck it up over and over?

      Challenge 27: THERE'S A BUG IN YOUR WARRANTY 2

      We've got a roll of higher-grade antitamper stickers as well. Can you handle it?

      Challenge materials - pieces of plastic with a gear-shaped cutout, an anti-tamper sticker covering the cutout from both sides and gears you need to insert inder the cutout. Those two pieces of plastics show the unsuccessful attempts at ungluing the sticker, as the white marks can be seen.

    • Lockpicking, wire&metal puzzles and chess

      Arya11/09/2016 at 03:08 0 comments

      Challenge 3: LOCKPICKING 1

      A set of lockpicks appeared right next to this padlock. Must've been magic, seeing as it's borderline legal to use them in our circumstances. At least we are sure we haven't seen who put them where they are.

      Read more »

    • Cypher and steganography challenges

      Arya11/09/2016 at 03:02 0 comments


      A link to a JPEG in question is written on the challenge paper (corrected to ).

      Read more »

    • RF challenges

      Arya11/09/2016 at 02:43 0 comments

      Challenge 1: RADIO PIRATES

      Hardware - a Parallax Propeller board sending RF transmissions by wiggling pins (code not published).

      Read more »

    View all 9 project logs

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