The 2019 SANS Holiday Hack Challenge presented a twisted take on how a villain, the Tooth Fairy, tried to take down Santa and ruin Christmas. It all takes place at the second annual Kringle Con, where the worlds leading security practitioners show up to hear talks and solve puzzles. Hosted at Elf-U, this years conference included 14 talks from leaders in information security, as well as 11 terminals / in-game puzzles and 13 objectives to figure out. In solving all of these, the Tooth Fairy’s plot was foiled, and Santa was able to deliver presents on Christmas. As usual, the challenges were interesting and set up in such a way that it was very beginner friendly, with lots of hints and talks to ensure that you learned something while solving. While last year really started the trend of defensive themed challenges, 2019 had a ton of interesting defensive challenges, with hands on with machine learning as well as tools like Splunk and Graylog.

2019 SANS Holiday Hack - Two Turtle Doves



The conference starts as I’m dropped off in the train station. I’ll ignore Bushy Evergreen and the Escape Ed terminal for the moment and talk to Santa, who is there to greet me:


Welcome to the North Pole and KringleCon 2!

Last year, KringleCon hosted over 17,500 attendees and my castle got a little crowded.

We moved the event to Elf University (Elf U for short), the North Pole’s largest venue.

Please feel free to explore, watch talks, and enjoy the con!

As I leave the train station through the door at the top of the screen, I come out onto the Elf U quad, where I find Santa again, this time holding an umbrella:


This is a little embarrassing, but I need your help.

Our KringleCon turtle dove mascots are missing!

They probably just wandered off.

Can you please help find them?

To help you search for them and get acquainted with KringleCon, I’ve created some objectives for you. You can see them in your badge.

Where’s your badge? Oh! It’s that big, circle emblem on your chest - give it a tap!

We made them in two flavors - one for our new guests, and one for those who’ve attended both KringleCons.

After you find the Turtle Doves and complete objectives 2-5, please come back and let me know.

Not sure where to start? Try hopping around campus and talking to some elves.

If you help my elves with some quicker problems, they’ll probably remember clues for the objectives.

Looking at my badge, I’ve just completed the first objective, “0) Talk to Santa in the Quad”. There are twelve objectives remaining, though first time players will only see the first five:

The completed badge shows all the objectives complete:

The solution to each of these objectives, with each associated terminal challenge, are given on the pages that follow. Additionally, the appendix provides information beyond the scope of the objectives, but potentially still of interest.

Table of Contents

Elf University Map

Over the course of solving all the challenges, I developed the following map:

Map of Elf-UClick for full size image