AFP, AustCyber back ‘hackathon’ to help find missing people

First Trace Labs OSINT CTF in Australia

Credit: 146852183 © Alexey Donenko

The Australian Federal Police is supporting a hackathon intended to generate new leads that can help locate missing people.

The National Missing Persons Hackathon 2019 is being led by the AustCyber Canberra Innovation Node and also has the support of the AFP’s National Missing Persons Coordination Centre (NMPCC) and Trace Labs.

“Contestants will be using their cyber skills to gather open source intelligence (OSINT) on long-term and current missing persons using only information that is publicly available on the internet,” states the description of the event by the AustCyber Canberra Innovation Node.

“The goal of this is to generate new leads on cases that can provide assistance to the relevant Australian policing jurisdictions in their investigations.”

According to the NMPCC, more than 38,000 missing persons reports are made to police every year. Most people are relatively swiftly located but around 2600 people have been missing for more than three months.

Trace Labs is a nonprofit focuses on the use of OSINT to help find missing persons. In 2018, the organisation staged a number of OSINT capture the flag (CTF) events at infosec conferences.

Trace Labs has a custom platform designed for the CTFs. The organisation said that its “non-theoretical” events involve teams of up to four members that collect “flags” based on OSINT, scoring points for each new pieces of information sourced.

The points range from 10 (for details of a missing person’s friends) to 1000 for a discussion regarding the individual on a darkweb site to 5000 if a person is located. Information from news reports, law enforcement and missing persons sites is not counted.

The Australian event will take place in 11 locations, covering all states and territories (physical attendance is required). The CTF will take place on 11 October and last six hours. It will focus on 12 missing people selected from the files of the NMPCC.

There will be a range of prizes for participants, including a $1600 Amazon gift card for the team with the most points.

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