SANS Crowns Winners of the First European NetWars Tournament of Champions — Berlin 2019

Berlin, Germany – SANS hosted its sixth NetWars Tournament of Champions last week, with the event held for the very first time in Europe, at SANS Pentest Hackfest Berlin. Hosting the Tournament in Europe gave European participants who have not previously been able travel to the US the opportunity to compete for the much-coveted title.

Over six months in the making, SANS invited only the best of the best to compete for the top spot, with over 80 past champions registering to take part in SANS’ NetWars Tournament of Champions Europe. Based on the latest version 6, the new Netwars challenge included:

  • An entirely new set of challenges and hints at every level
  • A new immersive theme and engaging storyline
  • Challenges based on the latest and greatest technologies and attack methods that enterprises are exposed to today, including web application firewall hardening, multi-factor authentication bypass, and PowerShell challenges

Co-hosting the event, SANS Instructor Chris Dale was thrilled with the outcome: "This was the first time we've run the Tournament of Champions in Europe, and to combine it with our Summit Conference, Pentest Hackfest was exhilarating! The fact that it was a Tournament of Champions made it extra special, and all players were competing on a brand-new version. With every participant joining at the same skill level, it was a nail-biting battle!

He continued: “Tournament of Champions is a collection of past winners from our Netwars events; in this instance, winners from 2017 to date who achieved a top 5 position. We had attendees from multiple continents, travelling to Berlin for training and who then also participated in Netwars.

“Our players have demonstrated a tremendously high level of skill, and I am deeply impressed. This version was a great success and the mood was intense at many times during the event. What’s more, everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves and socialise, despite the fact it was evident people were deeply concentrating on the challenge.”

Berlin 2019 Tournament of Champions Winners

The first-place individual crown in NetWars Tournament of Champions 6 went to Joerg Kleinophorst (@jk42) with a score of 314, a clear 30-point lead! Joerg works for the German government, analysing and defending against cyber threats. He states: "No matter if experienced or new to infosec, I recommend that everyone takes part in the CTFs (Capture the Flags) when given the chance to, especially during highly immersive opportunities such as Core NetWars. There is nothing to lose, only experience to gain if you try!"

The first place winning team title was awarded to Team Altus_and_Friends, a group of five hackers who met online at Capture the Flags and conferences. Nick Ippolito (@ippsec), Kyle Fiducia (@kfiducia), Eirik Nordbø (@enordbo), David Forsythe (@0xdf_), and Barrett Darnell (@pwneip), were all selected for the team based on their exceptional cyber skills and knowledge. After winning NetWars Tournament of Champions in Washington, DC in December 2018, the team was invited to compete at the EMEA NetWars Tournament of Champions in Berlin. Altus_and_Friends was eager to compete against new competitors, in a new venue, with a brand new version of NetWars.

Nick and Kyle are employed by Altus Consulting Corporation (, a Virginia based company that recognizes the value of CTF-style events like SANS NetWars and encourages and sponsors their employees to participate. Eirik works as a security analyst and penetration tester at Equinor ASA ( Equinor considers hands-on training and competitions as great ways to develop its employees, and through this, to improve the company’s cybersecurity posture.

Barrett is currently a Major in the United States Air Force. When he is not on the keyboard, he is developing immersive CTF ranges for Threat Simulations. He commented: "At a certain point in everyone's infosec journey you have to progress from going solo against a target network to working as a team. NetWars is a great platform to improve those team-based skills, such as communication, coordination and understanding each other's strengths and weaknesses. Each time we play together we become a stronger team. I'm excited to see the new Team Based Training1 that SANS is debuting soon."

The new NetWars dates can be found on the SANS NetWars website, and with the first European tournament being such a big success, we’ll be hosting a second Europe Tournament of Champions next year.

More information

1. TBT570: Team Based Training - Blue Team and Red Team Dynamic Workshop

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. (