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Festive Virtual Hacker Conference Returns

A free holiday-themed cybersecurity conference set in a virtual North Pole is scheduled to take place for the second year running. 

KringleCon 2019 invites hackers and cybersecurity professionals from across the globe to hear expert speakers, watch educational demos, share tips, and test their skills in a cyber-battle. 

The conference, which will begin next week, was created by global cybersecurity training and certification provider SANS Institute

An extensive line-up of speakers includes IBM Security’s Stephanie Carruthers, Black Hills Information Security’s John Strand, Ian Coldwater from Heroku/Salesforce, Dave Kennedy from TrustedSec, and Lesley Carhart from Dragos.

Immediately following the conference, SANS will host its annual Holiday Hack Challenge. This year’s capture-the-flag (CTF) event will include new offensive and defensive challenges featuring machine learning and a variety of other cutting-edge technologies.

The Holiday Hack Challenge offers a series of awards and valuable educational prizes, ranging from SANS OnDemand courses to NetWars Continuous subscriptions. Challenges begin at a fun level, then progressively become more difficult until they reach a level that will really test the mettle of those who participate.

“There are many unique elements to this conference, and it starts with an overarching storyline,” explains Ed Skoudis, director of SANS Cyber Ranges and Team-Based Training and creator of KringleCon.

“A nefarious villain tries to hack the conference to cause it to be cancelled. Last year, the evil hacker locked up Santa’s castle and held conference attendees inside the castle. This year’s theme will be equally thrilling. The addition of offensive and defensive machine learning challenges is especially exciting, as we believe this to be the first time that machine learning is used in a CTF event.”

Last year's KringleCon included 51 different presentations that were given on YouTube. 

Previous holiday hacking challenges laid on by SANS include the 2015 event Gnome in Your Home, which was based around the children's book Elf on the Shelf. The book tells the story of how Santa is fed information on which children are naughty and nice via a spy network of elves who watch children in their own homes. 

The challenge took the form of a quest-style video game, complete with 8-bit Christmas music, in which participants had to work out what the internet-connected gnomes were really up to. 

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