Black Hat MEA 2023 has crowned the winners of the coveted Capture the Flag and Cyberseed Startup competitions on the final day of a hugely successful three-day event at the Riyadh Front Exhibition and Convention Centre.
One of the world’s fastest-growing cybersecurity events, with 40,000 industry professionals in attendance this year, Black Hat MEA saw future cyber industry stars battling it out for a share of a combined prize pool of more than US$187,000 across two challenging contests.
Over the past three days, more than 1,000 of the region’s best and brightest ethical hackers competed in Capture The Flag, organised by the Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programming & Drones (SAFCSP). The jeopardy-style competition tested ethical hacking skills across a range of categories, including Web, PWN, Forensics, Reverse Engineering, and Cryptocurrency, among others.
After a gripping contest, Team DiceGang were crowned winners, securing the coveted title and a cash prize of US$80,000 (SAR300,000). In second place was The Duck, who won US$53,000 (SAR200,000), with team C4t But s4d in third place, securing US$27,000 ( SAR100,000).
The Cyberseed Startup competition, which was running in parallel across the three days, was broken down into three categories. The Innovative Ideator was aimed at startups that are pre-revenue but have potential groundbreaking ideas ready to make their first jump into the market. The Established Excellence category is for experienced startups that are larger in scale, while the Saudi Superstar award is reserved for a startup that is helping build the profile of cybersecurity talent within the Kingdom.
The winners, who each secured a cheque for US$10,000 (SAR37,000), were FourCore who won ‘The Innovative Ideator’, ‘The Established Excellence’ award was scooped by AlShield, Powered by Bosch, while dPhish was home ‘The Saudi Superstar’ award.
“We are thrilled and grateful to be able to participate in the CyberSeed Pitch competition, and winning the Saudi Superstar award was beyond our expectations – it is an amazing feeling. Black Hat MEA has provided our business with excellent opportunities, and winning this award will motivate us to continue our efforts, and with our financial projection plan, we aim to make dPhish more profitable and successful. We look forward to participating again next year!” Said Karem Ali Faisal, CEO of dPhish.
Event organisers Tahaluf, the Informa LLC joint venture with the Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programming & Drones, is helping foster the Kingdom’s next generation of cyber leaders with the staging of the inaugural Black Hat Campus, a content-led environment bringing together vendors, universities, recruiters and consultancies. The Campus concluded on the final day of Black Hat MEA 2023 having created a unique platform for startups to engage with potential investors.
“We operate across Southeast Asia, Singapore, India and the MENA region, and were excited to be a part of Black Hat Campus, which has allowed us to network with other startups as well as larger businesses looking for both partners and investment opportunities. At ThreatCop, we’re architects of a secure future and can reduce cyber risks by up to 90 per cent across some of our products, which has attracted a lot of interest. We’ve interacted with some great like-minded experts and are positive to keep these conversations going after the event,” said Pavan Kushwaha, CEO of ThreatCop, one of the startups invited to participate in the campus
Shiv Kumar, Co-founder and Chief Revenue Officer at AIShield, echoed that experience, adding the Campus had provided the perfect setting to help accelerate his business. He said: “Participating in Black Hat MEA Campus as an AI Security provider was a game-changer for us. We have a unique and targeted platform to showcase our products and engage with industry experts. The event was pivotal in accelerating our brand and customer conversations in the dynamic and highly adaptive cybersecurity landscape in the Middle East, and to win the Established Excellence award was the perfect end for us. We’re excited to see how participating this week will grow our business and network.”
“The launch of Black Hat Campus this year was a strategic move in line with our commitment to equip the next generation of cyber professionals with advanced skills to really make a difference and shape the industry’s future, and it has outperformed our expectations, particularly the student-focused zone aimed at nurturing local talent. This initiative offers unique learning opportunities under expert cyber professionals,” said Annabelle Mander, Senior Vice President, Tahaluf.
Black Hat MEA will be returning to Riyadh in 2024.