44CON 2023 Trace Labs Search Party CTF

About Trace Labs

Trace Labs is a Canadian based not-for-profit organization that uses responsibly crowd sourced OSINT collection to augment a traditional missing person investigation. Since 2018, they have been educating new investigators, advocating for the value of Open Source Intelligence in the law enforcement community and applying physical Search and Rescue (SAR) principles to digital investigations. They’ve worked with law enforcement agencies across the globe to bring convergent volunteers together to combat the missing persons epidemic. As the problem scales, so must the solution. 

Trace Labs currently has a number of ongoing initiatives: 

  • Search Party CTFs – Scored and timed events that provide a non-theoretical spin on a traditional CTF. The cases being worked are real cases that law enforcement has asked for the public’s help on. These investigation are 100% passive in nature. No active techniques are permitted. https://www.tracelabs.org/initiatives/search-party
  • Ongoing Ops – a non-scored version of the Search Party CTF. Volunteers are able to contribute to active missing persons investigations whenever they have time. There are no points but the intent is the same as a CTF
  • Trace Labs OSINT VM – Trace Labs developed and actively maintains an OSINT focused virtual machine loaded with OSINT-focused resources and guides. https://www.tracelabs.org/initiatives/osint-vm
  • Trace Labs OSINT Field Manual – A guide for those new to people-centric OSINT investigations. Presented in the context of Trace Labs CTF Rules of Engagement (passive recon only). https://github.com/tracelabs/tofm/blob/main/tofm.md
  • “Breadcrumbs” by Trace Labs – An OSINT focused podcast hosted by Tom Hocker (aka humanDecoded). Tom is one of the Directors of the organization and interviews a wide range of guests about various OSINT or OSINT-adjacent topics. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/breadcrumbs-by-trace-labs/id1542092539
  • A YouTube channel featuring tutorials and panel discussions: https://www.youtube.com/@TraceLabsVideos

Trace Labs at 44CON

The Trace Labs leadership team will be onsite hosting a 24 hour Search Party CTF during 44CON. The “CTF” will feature active missing persons cases that law enforcement has requested the public’s assistance with. The “flags” in this CTF are key pieces of intelligence that our LE partners have denoted as useful to their investigation. Teams of up to four people will compete to find these “flags” for the missing persons cases featured in the CTF. Intelligence collection is entirely passive and will consist mostly of sketching out a person’s online footprint. More information about the event can be found at: https://www.tracelabs.org/initiatives/search-party

The Trace Labs team will be giving in person briefings on Thursday and Friday to get everyone up to speed on the mechanics of the CTF and answer any questions contestants may have. Additionally, the team will be working WITH the contestants over the course of the CTF. The intent of the event isn’t to “win” but to collect intelligence that could assist law enforcement. 

To get a head start on the event you can check out the following resources: