How many Hackers does it take to Change a Lightbulb?

Samuel C (Year 10)

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On 17th June, select year 9 and 10 students, most from the Good Game exploration course, embarked on an excursion to a cyber security experience day. The event was run by the University of Western Sydney and Gridware, a cyber security company. The day consisted of insights into the world of cyber security, even including a mock cyber-attack, in which we had to attempt to outsmart the devious hackers that locked our school folder.  

The first and arguably most challenging task of the day was making our own way to the venue. Parramatta was scattered with Western Sydney Uni campuses, and all we had was a very vague map, if you could call it that. After incorrect use of this map, a few of the boys and I ended up at the wrong building; the engineering branch. Eventually though, with Mrs Greenwood’s assistance, we managed to navigate our way to the correct campus. The day hadn’t even started, and we were already learning new things. 

Upon arrival, we were escorted to the conference room where we were assigned name tags and given a short presentation about the fast-growing industry of Cyber Security; how to get into it, the opportunities available and what the job entails. One thing I found interesting was that the top performing students in cyber security weren’t those who learnt young, but those who were most passionate about the course. We transitioned into a Q&A with experts form Gridware, and eventually arrived at recess. For those of you wondering, it was pastries.  

Session two was where the fun really started. We were split into teams between schools, and where given the following task: 

The Mission: 

In this cyber experience, you will be part of an Incidence response team investigating a ransomware demand from cyber criminals, Lockbit. Security has been breached and your data has been encrypted. Your team needs to act fast! You need the data restored urgently. Do you pay the ransom or outsmart the criminals? 

With experienced Gridware professionals, your team will rapidly detect, triage, investigate and identify the root cause and impact of the cyber-attack. You will need to use your collaboration, problem solving and communication skills to be successful in your mission! Good Luck! 

To put that into simple terms, some hackers had locked us out of our school folder, and using a virtual note left behind we had to find the password and outsmart the hackers. Learning to hack is like learning to ride a bike. They put you on the bike and tell you to go. There were no step-by-step instructions, and this was done to reflect a real scenario a cyber expert would be in. Unethical Hackers are constantly evolving, so ethical hackers and cyber security experts must employ problem solving to create new solutions, which is what we had to do.  


It started off simple, with some binary code left by the hackers. We converted the binary into English and found a link to a website. Unfortunately (and intentionally), the website was no longer functioning though, and we needed to access an older version of the site. To do this we used an online tool called the ‘Wayback machine’ and got the website functional, being one step closer to succeeding. The website rick-rolled us, sent us on a goose chase, and asked for a code. We utilised the page inspect tool to find 3 potential strings, which we converted from base form to English, which gave us the code needed to unlock our school file. After all this, we recorded our process in a PowerPoint and presented it to everyone there.  

There’s more steps I left out, and if you got lost there, don’t worry, so did my team. But eventually we were able to complete the task. The top three teams consisted of William Clarke students, so congratulations to those students! I also managed to snag the ‘Best presenter’ award; some Elvis Presley glasses.  


Congratulations to all winners!!! 

Overall, the experience was fun and informative, and I definitely recommend it for everyone. I’m sure I speak on behalf of all participants when I say the experience was both fun and informative, not to mention the fact that lunch was great.