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PHDays CTF 2012

July 11, 2012

I just thought I should update my blog-been a while since I did so. So, I thought I’ll write about my PHdays CTF 2012 experience.

So team bi0s was invited yet again for PHDays CTF. I was elated when I knew I’ll be part of the 5 going there. It was my first trip out of India and I was damn excited. After paying a whopping 6200 or so INR for my visa, I was finally glad I was going out of India(and making it to the clan of only 4 people from my class who went abroad while still an undergraduate).

The Chennai airport was a big maze-filling forms, customs, immigration all were new to me(I’ve been on a flight just one before so the airport itself was overwhelming :D). Anyway all that done, we board the (heavily crowded) flight to Dubai. The Emirates flight was damn cool and the in-flight entertainment, food etc was just awesome! The take off was even cooler and landing in Dubai was awesome. I was awed by the engineering that I saw and the impeccable planning on Dubai airport! The airport was damn huge, clean and blew my away! I don’t even know how we managed to kill 6 hours in the airport! Time just flew and it was time to board our next flight to Moscow. Finally, Russia here we come!

The flight was not at all crowded unlike the previous flight and we had 3-4 seats to ourselves and I spent most of the picturesque flight watching a movie.Interior of the emirates flight to Russia

I did manage to spend time looking out at the beautiful mountain ranges(I think it was Ural Mountains-didn’t ID the ranges). And lo before we knew we reached Moscow airport at 1am in the night :D!

Moscow was damn cool and how! At night traffic still flowed seamlessly with everyone sticking to traffic discipline and traffic was zooming like Quidditch players :D. We were picked up by a guy who didn’t know one word of English(very few there know English). I loved that pickup truck-it was damn comfortable with space for about 20-30 people and just five of us in it :P. The guy dropped us off at the hotel and again due to Russian issues, it took us a while to get our rooms. I got a single room to myself and almost immediately collapsed to sleep.

Next day we woke up and had a um sumptuous meal(damn the non vegan fans of Russia-I had a very hard time eating salad and bread/butter 😦 ) before heading out to the soccer match with other CTF teams. It took us 2-3 hours to get there since the place was real far away but we pwned the Russian Metro in the process :D. After that 1 trip in the metro, we could go anywhere we wanted in Moscow(Kings of the metro :D). The soccer match though brief thanks to rain was fun. I finally met Tyler! We also met PPP, Florian and the organizers! Thanks to rain, we went for an early lunch in a metro station :-

The metro station was really awesome and so was the restaurant. As usual, I had woes picking dishes being vegan but enjoyed about 2L of cranberry juice with the organizers and the other CTF teams. Done with lunch, we headed back in the awesome Moscow metro to our hotel and sleep ahead of the CTF contest.

Next day, Dmitry Kuznetsov(a good friend of our team mentor Vipin Sir) came to pick us up and it was fun chatting with him. I learnt a lot about Russian names, history, metro station names and had a fun time walking to Digital October. It was picturesque walking with many monuments(and other interesting sights 😉 ) and I learnt that Digital October originally used to be a chocolate factory. Inside, we had an awesome view-the CTF area was right next to the bar! Awesome-all stuff to eat and drink right next to us(the bar wasn’t free I suppose and so I never drank anything 😦 ).

The CTF was cool. In short, we didn’t do so well and finished last but managed to exploit the python twisted service(reminded of my service for sCTF 2012) as well as solve a few side challenges. We also managed to capture a few flags from the dumpster diving

The best part of the CTF was when we shared all the Indian sweets with everyone there, dumpster diving, meeting our good friends Leet More and PPP, meeting new  and all the flag capturing we did though quite less surely. I enjoyed travelling at midnight-it was still bright there but damn cold! I loved staying out late night on almost all the days! It was real fun!

Of course we didn’t take part in the ‘2 drunk 2 hack contest’ where participants try to attack a vulnerable web application and have to drink shots periodically. We hope that if we go next time, we will take part in this awesome contest for the fun of it.

And of course the awesome fun closing ceremony which had an awesome band playing(we left midway to get back to the hotel since it was too far away  from the venue 😦 )

And oh the best part was the boat trip on day after the CTF! 2 hours along the Moscow river with the drinks you want, the stuff want to eat, the CTF teams and it was damn fun(we ran very late and felt very bad about it)! I spent most of the time talking to the organizers, Tyler, members of Shell Storm and some of the CTF organizers along with enjoying the beautiful sights of  the Moscow during the boat ride and the dinner party we had after that :D. What an awesome time that was!! I got my picture with Tyler finally! Oh the best part was meeting Stalkr during the boat trip! That was quite unexpected!! I didn’t spend much time with him though-my team mates did. Would’ve been awesome but maybe another time. I missed meeting Bruce Schneier too-he spoke at PHDays. Ah well! And next day we went to Kremlin(Red Square). I think the travel in metro was more adventurous than Kremlin itself though there are some amazing sights there for sure! Not much to say about it yeah :(.

That’s cos by then I was kinda sad that it’s almost time to return and that we’ll have to leave Russia. Oh the five days in Moscow were damn fun-but the last was the best. I must describe that as well :D.

We were on the way to the airport-3 of the team went by taxi. Me and Giri took the metro. Oh what fun-we went through some of the weird parts of Moscow, went to take the airport express, found it too expensive, raced back to the metro, nearly ran out of cash to get back into metro(in Moscow for 28 roubles you can go from any station to any station as many times as you like-you can visit each and every station for just 28 roubles. That’s about 56 INR), went to the closest metro station, took a ride to the airport(110 roubles per person), searched the entire airport for the others and finally found them about half an hour or so later on. Oh and it started raining when we left the hotel too-added woes too :D.

All in all, it was a damn fun-filled trip. I got to hang out with the CTF teams and most importantly my CTF team mates Bithin and Giri as well as make a good friend in Reno Robert! I love you guys-thanks you guy and Positive Technologies for a fun-filled PHDays! Hope to see you next year too!

EDIT: Damn I completely forgot to mention we met hellman and vos from Leet More! Damn damn damn! How could I miss those guys especially when vos found a 0 day in Free BSD and won a Macbook pro!! Pity I couldn’t spend much time after the CTF with them 😦 !! I so badly want to qualify for another on site CTF just to do so :D!


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