🎅🎄 SANS 2018 Holiday Hack Challenge (HHC) - KringleCon

2 minute read



Every year the SANS Institute and the Counter Hack Team hosts a ‘Holiday Hack Challenge’ also commonly referred to as HHC.

The SANS HHC contains a number of unique infosec related challenges designed to test and improve the technical skills of those interested or working within Information/Cyber Security.

The 2018 Holiday Hack Challenge can be found below:

SANS 2018 HHC - Kringlecon

Some statistics on the SANS 2018 HHC were presented at the closing webcast which can be found below:

SANS HHC Webcast

Quick Statistics for HHC 2018

  • 17,460 Players
  • 3.73% Completed the final challenge
  • 337 Reports Submitted
  • 1.93% Submitted a report
  • 73 Reports with everything answered correctly

SANS keeps a number of past challenges (including HHC 2018) available all year long for those who still want to take part after the challenge has concluded which can be found below:

SANS Past HHC Challenges


For those looking to learn or expand on their technical abilities these types of challenges can often be a good starting point with many participants choosing to document and publish their write-ups for every challenge completed.

Included as part of the SANS HHC is the option to submit your write-up for each challenge (prior to the deadline) to enter into the SANS Contest.

In January 2019, I successfully completed all of the challenges and submitted my write-up to the Counter Hack Team, this entry was one of 42 entries to earn a Super Honorable Mention, which is defined as:

A group of people who really went above and beyond with their entries. Their write-ups were SUPERB, demonstrating excellent technical skills along with impressive communication skills. 

SANS HHC 2018 - Winners and Answers

I have chosen to publish my HHC submission to show my thought process behind various challenges and to help others learn (PDF Download Below):

SANS HHC 2018 Write-up JPMinty

I’d also thoroughly suggest anyone interested take a look at the below winning, astounding entries which took out the grand prizes.

Creative, illustrated entry - Congratulations Steve Sampana.

Video Walkthrough of SANS HHC 2018 Challenges - Congratulations Andy Smith.

Official SANS 2018 HHC write-up - Congratulations Dom, Sam and Vlad

Final Notes

In addition to my closing remarks in the HHC write-up, I’d like to give my congratulations to the rest of the Honorable and Super Honorable Entries, Honorable being:

These folks did a wonderful job with their answers, and we heartily congratulate them

Send my congratulations to all 337 people/teams who took the time to document and submit their reports, and also to the 17,460 players who participated in the SANS 2018 HHC.