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Cyber sleuths hunt for missing persons

Posted November 2, 2020

The National Missing Persons Hackathon 2020 was run by AustCyber in partnership with the Australian Federal Police, the National Missing Persons Coordination Centre and Trace Labs. It was held virtually across the country with the addition of live, in-person events in AustCyber’s SA Node at Lot Fourteen as well as nodes in Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory.

The nodes are part of a national network designed to foster and accelerate cyber capability development and innovation across Australia.

AustCyber is a member of the Australian Cyber Collaboration Centre also based at Lot Fourteen where cybersecurity is a hi-tech focus sector. The SA node is focused on the space industry, the defence industry and its supply chain, autonomous systems, and digital health.

The hackathon brought together 650 participants from across Australia who used online investigative techniques within the bounds of the law to aid state and territory police in their investigations for 12 missing person cases.

Participants of the NMP Hackathon 2020 in the Cyber Range at A3C Lot Fourteen.

Only publicly available information was provided on each case ensuring that sensitive or classified materials were not accessible.

Unlike true hackathons which are theoretical, the National Missing Persons Hackathon 2020 was in real time, using real data with a real social impact. Points were awarded for actual information generated on these cases.

Winners of this year’s event were teams “L0rax” with “lowkey” and “Fetch Blitz” taking second and third places respectively. The leads they generated will be handed to the relevant police jurisdiction for their investigation.

All of South Australia’s teams which participated in person (10 teams of four) ranked in the top 100 out of a total of 162 teams nationwide. SA’s state winners were Team “Q0NYLUFETA” from CyberCX. They took the state winners trophy, presented by Acting Commander Peter Chwal of Western and Central Command, Australian Federal Police.

AustCyber SA Node Manager Paula Oliver said the event showcased the value of ethical hacking.

“Ethical hacking identifies weaknesses in a computer system or network to improve its security with a view to protecting the data,” she said.

“The hackathon also provided education and training in cyber security and highlighted the different elements including the careers available.”

AustCyber Chief Executive Michelle Price said Cyber Week 2020 was one of AustCyber’s key programs under its mission to grow a globally competitive cyber security sector.

“The events during Australia’s Cyber Week connect Australian cyber capabilities with key domestic and international stakeholders who are contributing to the growth and success of the sector,” she said.

The week provided opportunities for Australian cyber security and related organisations to showcase their capabilities and network with peers, potential investors and customers.

More about AustCyber at

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