The SANS Institute, a global leader in cybersecurity training, has announced the addition of a log4j security vulnerability bonus challenge to the 2021 SANS Holiday Hack Challenge. The log4j bonus challenge will allow participants to develop the defense analysis and penetration testing skills necessary to comprehend and tackle the log4j exploit.

Ed Skoudis, President at SANS Technology Institute and the creator and director of the SANS Holiday Hack Challenge, said, "With this new bonus challenge, participants will get to develop their skills, step-by-step, in examining logging data to identify attack patterns that adversaries are actively using. Additionally, they will get a chance to build their understanding of how attackers are exploiting the Apache Log4j vulnerability in the wild today. This hands-on lab experience is available exclusively at the North Pole via the SANS Holiday Hack Challenge!"

Launched in 2002, the SANS Holiday Hack Challenge is a free, cybersecurity online global game where participants of all skill levels, including elementary students and all cybersecurity professionals, tackle hands-on challenges to help 'Santa Claus' defeat cyber villains like Jack Frost and save the holiday season from disaster, according to SANS. “Jack Frost is back this year – he barely escaped justice on a technicality in 2020 – and so we need everyone’s help to thwart Jack’s nefarious plot,” Skoudis says.

Available through December and early January 2022, the challenge takes place together with KringleCon 2021, a virtual conference that features discussions from cybersecurity industry experts on the latest information security concerns and how to support players in building the required skills to solve this year's Holiday Hack challenges.

Last year, more than 19,000 players participated, and more students and cybersecurity professionals are expected to join this year. The challenges are developed for players of all skill levels, ranging from beginner to serious expert, from elementary students to cybersecurity professionals, to help advance their security capabilities. There will also be several winners: multiple players will receive cybersecurity goodies, and the grand prize winner will obtain a SANS online training course for free.

“The SANS Holiday Hack Challenge is a series of challenges that you can use to develop your cybersecurity skills, featuring a mix of cyber defense, offense, digital forensics, incident response, blue team, cloud security, and more. All of the elements combine to create an interactive, social, video-game aspect where players can work together in a virtual world to solve challenges and explore the North Pole,” said Skoudis. “And a bonus for players is the soundtrack featuring some great custom holiday hacking music for you to enjoy while you play.”

Anyone can sign up for free. Click here to learn more about the 2021 SANS Holiday Hack Challenge and KringleCon.