So, the t2 challenge of 2017.. It’s over for sure, but not in a way we anticipated. Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s get back to the beginning.
The challenge was originally created in 2005 to give out free tickets to people with fantastic technical talents – there were two tracks, speed and elegance. You could either win by being the first one to solve the challenge, or by submitting the finest write-up. The idea was that also those without a personal training budget had a chance of participating the event – in practice, many new talents got a turbo boost for their contacts and career in security.
The format was successful for almost a decade, until the successful completions, attempts and downloads/page views started to drop steadily. The numbers were coming down and there was no denying it – the format of each year’s challenge appeared to have no effect on this.
We tried to compensate by putting more effort into creating the challenges, and promoted them also on Twitter in addition to the traditional channels. Alas, this did not work and we pivoted to a bug bounty this year.
The challenge was open for three full months over the summer, and during that time our own tweets alone reached over 130 000 people. Further promotion was done on our own blog, and mailing list, in addition to Full Disclosure and DailyDave. In the spirit of past challenges, the rules emphasized quality submissions and finesse to allow people to focus on what truly matters. Most importantly, the target had been selected exclusively for the t2 challenge, and had not been previously subjected to a bug bounty.
Despite a major scope increase two weeks before the challenge end date, we received exactly zero submissions. Not one, not two, but Z-to-the-E-to-the-R-to-the-0. Talk about failing..
Our question now to you, esteemed fellow hackers is:
How should we give out the free tickets in the future?