KoreLogic's Password Cracking Contest at DEF CON

Contest Registration

Registration is net yet open

To register for the contest and be eligible to win, several things must happen. They do not need to happen all at the same time. You can pre-register and receive the hashes as soon as the contest starts, or register during the conference, after the contest has started.

Detailed instructions for each step are below.

Import our PGP keys

There are two PGP keys you need to import:

  • The key for sub-2024@contest.korelogic.com, the submission autoresponder, available here. That's the email address and PGP key you'll use for all the steps below.
  • The key for defcon-2024-contest@korelogic.com, the group alias for the humans running the contest, available here. You really only need this if something goes wrong, and you need to contact us (or we contact you; our correspondence will always be signed with that or our individual @korelogic.com keys).
Submitting your PGP key

You can use an existing PGP key or create a new one - however, the key you use must have only one UID (email address), so don't use an existing key if you have multiple UIDs attached to it. We recommend you use a new key dedicated to the contest, so that you can share the private key among team members or automate submissions without decaying the security of an existing, important PGP key, but that is up to you.

You must send us the public key in an email that is encrypted to us and signed by that key. You do not have to send all mails to us From: the email address in the key, but you must be able to receive emails sent to that address. I.e. if alice@example.org and bob@example.org create a PGP key for foo@gmail.com, it does not matter if all their mails to us come from either alice@ or bob@ or wherever, as long as the mails are signed by the foo@gmail.com key and they will receive and be able to decrypt replies we send to foo@gmail.com.

You may use ASCII-armored, inline PGP messages or MIME messages with PGP'ed attachments (either sign+encrypt the whole message, or add a signed & encrypted attachment to a plaintext message).

A suitable way to compose your key-registration email after you've made your key using GnuPG would look like this, assuming your new PGP key has KeyID 0xDEADC0D3:

$ gpg -a -o my-key.pub.asc --export DEADC0D3
$ gpg -a -o keysub-email.asc -r sub-2024@contest.korelogic.com \
        -se my-key.pub.asc
And then either email the resulting keysub-email.asc as an inline-PGP message: $ mail -s "PGP key" sub-2024@contest.korelogic.com < keysub-email.asc Or, attach the encrypted-and-signed file keysub-email.asc (not the file my-key.pub.asc) to a regular email to sub-2024@contest.korelogic.com, such as if you are using GMail's web client.

The Subject: is not really important, nor is the From: - we only trust what is inside the encrypted+signed message.

Don't forget to add --local-user DEADC0D3 if you have more than one secret key, such as if you already had a key but created an additional one just for use during this contest.

Note: the submission processor does not support detached signatures, separate from the encrypt stage. So for instance if your mail client creates your message so that it looks like: mime(encrypt(mime(payload.txt, signature.asc))) Then that will not work. In particular we have seen in past years' contests that the Apple Mail client likes to create messages that way. They will be silently dropped by the submission handler as non-compliant. We might or might not have time to notice and contact you directly about it. Try pre-generating the encrypted+signed file using the above example steps, and then attach it (keysub-email.asc) to a non-PGP'ed email.

Confirmation Challenge

When we have learned your PGP key, we will send an encrypted challenge to the email address in the PGP key. This is to make sure we are able to reach you at that address and using that key, and that you can decrypt messages encrypted to it. Once you decrypt that, it will have instructions on what to send back to us PGP signed+encrypted to confirm your address, which you would do something like: $ gpg -a -o response-email.asc -r sub-2024@contest.korelogic.com -se
[cut-and-paste the challenge line, including the Chal: prefix]
$ mail -s "Challenge Response" sub-2024@contest.korelogic.com < \
...Or attach response-email.asc to a Gmail message, etc.

When we receive and verify that response from you, you will get another email acknowledging it. Your email address will be on the list to receive information from us and to submit cracked passwords to us, and your team will appear on the Teams page.

Team Names

Your primary identifier, as far as we are concerned, is your PGP KeyID. Team names are sugar for the stats pages, etc.

Team names must be from 4 to 40 characters long, and consist of only letters, numbers, spaces, hyphens, underscores, and dots, and start and end with a letter or number. In other words, they must match:

^[A-Za-z0-9][-._A-Za-z0-9 ]{2,38}[A-Za-z0-9]$ We reserve the right to reject or mangle your submitted name.

Register your team name with us by sending a signed, encrypted email as described above, containing the line:

Team: team_name ...in the encrypted body. You can include this when you are first sending us your key; just include the Team: line as the first line of the payload, followed by the PGP public key block, that you encrypt+sign into keysub-email.asc in the example above. Or, you can set it afterwards as a separate step.

We will notify you (after you've confirmed your email address; see above) if we reject your team name for some reason (duplicate, contained nothing but profanity, etc). In the meantime your team will be identified by its PGP KeyID.

The autoresponder will reject a team-name from a team that has already assigned a name, so if you want to change an existing name, send a PGP-signed email to our human contact address, defcon-2024-contest@korelogic.com.

Pro Teams

Once you have received the confirmation email that your team's public key has been registered (after you have sent in your Challenge response), if you want to compete in the "Pro" category, please send a PGP-signed email to our human contact address, defcon-2024-contest@korelogic.com, telling us so.


You can combine registration steps something like this:

$ echo "Team: awesome" > reg-email
$ gpg -a --export DEADC0D3 >> reg-email
$ gpg -a -o keysub-email.asc -r sub-2024@contest.korelogic.com \
        -se reg-email
$ mail -s "Registration" sub-2024@contest.korelogic.com \
        < keysub-email.asc
(Again, remember --local-user DEADC0D3 if this isn't your only key.)

After this you will still need to wait for the confirmation challenge, decrypt and respond to it. And then, if you are a Pro team, tell us so.

Now you are ready to submit cracks; see How to Submit Cracks.