Publication date: April 12, 2019

The Standoff: new twists added to a PHDays favorite

At this year's Positive Hack Days, teams of attackers, defenders, and security operations centers will wage cyberbattle in The Standoff for the fourth time. But this year, the organizers have some changes in store.

City F, which we all remember from before, has grown to become a true modern digital metropolis. Now in addition to the traditional facilities the city infrastructure includes offices. These belong to an airline, insurance company, IT company, media outlet, and maritime shipper. The city even has a soccer club. And just like last year, City F will have its own cryptocurrency. The city is still densely populated. People work in various offices and factories for different companies, live in modern homes, and use all the latest digital technologies in their daily lives.

Changes have been made to the format of the game as well (see more on The Standoff page). First, teams of developers will join the fight, making work for both attackers and defenders. During a hackathon, developers will create applications which the attackers will also try to crack. Second, many facilities will remain unprotected. This time the defenders will secure only offices, while the other facilities will remain vulnerable (as sometimes happens in real life). But this does not necessarily mean smooth sailing for attackers.

Maxim Tselikov, member of the PHDays organizing committee, said: "We have spiced things up a bit. To see whose approach to security is more effective, we have put the defender teams on equal terms, entrusting them with the different offices. And to make sure the defenders don't completely cut off their perimeters from the bad guys, we will have special checks in place, ones even better than last year's." "Attackers will still be free to act as they will, but we have changed the scoring. The score for a task will now depend on more than just its complexity. Although some tasks will resemble those from past years, they will be worth fewer points than before. We did this to motivate more experienced teams to get out of their comfort zone, while giving beginners a chance to try out new things. Also we have decided to place limits on the ability to compromise bank accounts, to avoid a repeat of the dramatic game-altering events we witnessed last year in the last hour of competition. What we can promise is that the teams will have to work hard. We have prepared a lot of interesting and unexpected tasks for them."

Last year, The Standoff ended in a draw. What will this year's competition bring? Let's find out!

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