50 out of the 200 participating hackers in Hâck The Hague are student hackers. Hâck The Hague is the ultimate possibility for students to test their knowledge and skills in a real-life setting, what they do with great enthusiasm year after year. Michael de Klein participated in the 2019 event, together with a fellow student. His involvement not only led to winning an award but also turned out to be a stepping-stone toward his first job as a professional hacker.
Why did you register for the 2019 edition of Hâck The Hague?
“At the time when invitations went out for the 2019 edition of Hâck The Hague, I was doing the minor Security Labs at Rotterdam university and investigating ethical hacking to be precise. Trying to find out how to great real world scenario’s for testing. Hâck The Hague was the perfect possibility to test in a real-life setting and that’s why I decided to register together with a fellow student. I always look at hacking as some kind of art, a way of looking at things - Two see more than one, can complement one another and can therefore be more effective.”
How did you prepare? Did you practice?
“If you want to prepare for a hacking competition, there are a number of online sources available to improve your skills. Hack the Box for example, a large environment set up by professionals that offers challenges to hack virtual computers, at your own pace, in your own way. There’s also a Dutch company, Certified Secure, that also offers all kinds of challenges, including theoretical knowledge that might come in handy. They also offer companies checklists so they can verify the digital security of their apps and systems. All those combined make up for a well balanced preparation. We also ensured we had the latest version of Kali Linux installed on our laptops, which offers a range of programs and tools that make hacking a whole lot simpler. By automating manual work, it makes you much more efficient.”
What can you tell us about the vulnerabilities you found?
“Our hack was about a data entry field on a website. Once a user sends this information off, the website will process this data and stores it in a database. Usually this database is secured so that no one can alter data, but that wasn’t the case here, so we were able to manipulate data in the database via the website concerned. We only found this vulnerability towards the end of the day, but in the end we were able to use one of the things out of our bag of tricks. Good preparation for the event not only gave us a good dose of self-confidence but also contributed to us winning an award as well.”
What is important in your current job as professional hacker?
“You have to keep up to date about cyber security developments and tools, but also good communication is an important element of my job. We do penetration tests for our customers, which results in a report that describes the findings and recommendations. Those descriptions need to be understandable, even for non-technical people, otherwise it’s of no use to the customer.”
Why should students register for Hâck The Hague
in your opinion?
Hâck The Hague is an incredibly valuable experience, fun, exciting and super informative. Even if you don’t hack anything, it will teach you something. So do you consider participating? Stop hesitating and register today!