Hackers Join Forces to Help Law Enforcement Agencies Solve Real Missing Persons Cases

Bethesda, Md. – SANS Institute, the global leader in cyber security training and certifications, has teamed up with Trace Labs to help law enforcement tackle missing persons cases. In partnership with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, SANS and Trace Labs will host an Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT) Missing Persons Capture the Flag (CTF) competition to find new leads to speed up the time to discovery and help law enforcement bring closure to families.

Trace Labs is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to accelerate the family reunification of missing persons through crowdsourced OSINT. OSINT is the collection, processing and analysis of publicly available data such as social media, forums, government records, and even the dark web. Up to seventy-five ethical hackers and information security professionals from within the SANS community will aid Trace Labs in its mission, by participating in a SANS OSINT Missing Persons CTF competition. Participants, working in teams of up to four people, will use their cyber and OSINT skills to gather intelligence on several real missing persons cases where law enforcement could use additional help in finding new leads. Points are awarded in exchange for each piece of data uncovered that was not previously known to law enforcement. At the end of the contest, Trace Labs will generate an intelligence report from the OSINT, for consumption by the law enforcement agencies responsible for these cases.

"Our mission is to bring together highly skilled cyber professionals and use the power of crowdsourcing to identify new leads on missing persons cases. Working with SANS, we have the opportunity to take these efforts to a new level, leveraging their unique cyber talent pool to expedite the collection of OSINT on several missing persons cases," said Adrian Korn, Director of OSINT Operations & Strategic Initiatives at Trace Labs. "One of the main benefits of these types of crowdsourced events is that both industry professionals and law enforcement join forces and work together to tackle complex social issues."

Micah Hoffman, author and lead instructor of the SANS SEC487: Open-Source Intelligence course, noted that "bringing the highly-talented students from SANS' courses together with this noble community service event is a wonderful combination of skill and cause. Many students spend hours testing their skills in online hacking challenges. In this event, they will do the same but their output will be much more meaningful. As a member of the OSINT community, I'm honored to be a part of this Trace Labs and SANS effort to do some OSINT for good."

The SANS OSINT Missing Persons CTF is a two-night event held December 13-14 in conjunction with the SANS Cyber Defense Initiative 2019 (#SANSCDI) training event taking place in Washington, D.C.

To learn more about Trace Labs' family reunification efforts, visit https://www.tracelabs.org. For additional details on OSINT gathering, including how to develop and strengthen OSINT skills, visit:

About Trace Labs

Trace Labs is a not-for-profit organization designed to help people on the worst day of their lives. Trace Labs leverages a crowdsourced intelligence platform to help with this situation. They have taken the traditional Capture the Flag (CTF) competition that we see at every information security conference and evolved it. It is no longer a theoretical exercise, but instead they take the efforts of the contestants to help law enforcement locate missing persons. This takes place through open source intelligence (OSINT) gathering. The CTF focus is OSINT and all flags are for details on the missing persons. These details are collected and then submitted to law enforcement.

About SANS Institute

The SANS Institute was established in 1989 as a cooperative research and education organization. Today, SANS is the most trusted and, by far, the largest provider of cyber security training and certification to professionals in government and commercial institutions world-wide. Renowned SANS instructors teach more than 60 courses at in-person and virtual cyber security training events and on demand. GIAC, an affiliate of the SANS Institute, validates practitioner skills through more than 35 hands-on, technical certifications in cyber security. The SANS Technology Institute, a regionally accredited independent subsidiary, offers a master’s degree, graduate certificates, and an undergraduate certificate in cyber security. SANS Security Awareness, a division of SANS, provides organizations with a complete and comprehensive security awareness solution, enabling them to easily and effectively manage their ‘human’ cybersecurity risk. SANS also delivers a wide variety of free resources to the InfoSec community including consensus projects, research reports, webcasts, podcasts, and newsletters; it also operates the Internet's early warning system–the Internet Storm Center. At the heart of SANS are the many security practitioners, representing varied global organizations from corporations to universities, working together to support and educate the global information security community. (https://www.sans.org)