Almost 30 hours of non-stop coding were put in by 50 young developers who were given a tough task to develop an Internet of things solution that is “secure by design” during the #SS19Hack hackathon.

Held by ITWeb in conjunction with Geekulcha and Snode Technologies, the #SS19Hack was sponsored by PwC and ran for the third time alongside ITWeb’s annual Security Summit, arguably the biggest gathering of information security professionals on the African continent.

Under the theme “Protecting connected citizens in the fourth industrial revolution”, 13 teams competed for cash prizes sponsored by Micro Focus and MTN.

As the shortage of cyber security skills is dire across the world, and even more so in SA, the hackathon aims to help promote the importance of developing and nurturing those skills.

“The Security Summit Hackathon is growing both bigger and better in terms of participation and the quality of projects developed during the short timeframe of this hackathon,” said Tiyani Nghonyama, COO and CTO of Geekulcha, who has been involved in the hackathon since its inception in 2017.

“It was amazing to see young and aspiring industry leaders grasping the concepts and actually building products comprising of a security layer at the beginning of the project and not at the end as an afterthought.”

A week prior to the ITWeb Security Summit Hackathon, a similar event was held in Kimberley, with the top three teams’ presentations from the Northern Cape also being reviewed by judges in Johannesburg. During both events, the teams benefitted from mentoring by key experts in the industry.

The overall winning team from the two hackathons was awarded R20 000, sponsored by Micro Focus, with the second and third placed teams winning R10 000 and R5 000 respectively, courtesy of MTN. The winning team in the ‘capture the flag’ cyber challenge walked away with R5 000, courtesy of Snode.

As the hackathon ran during ITWeb Security Summit 2019, which was attended by over 700 delegates, 50 exhibitors, and dozens of local and international speakers, these young tech enthusiasts were exposed to SA’s information security professionals and vice versa.

Ivan Regasek, CEO of ITWeb and one of the mentors, said information security is a forerunner in the field of software development, and expressed hope the collaboration of the three worlds – learners, the industry and government – will help alleviate SA’s skills problem.

The winning hackathon projects

First place: Khululeka: Blockchain-based content filtering tool

Prize: R20 000, courtesy of Micro Focus South Africa

The winning team created a blockchain-based tool, Khululeka, which automatically filters content shared on social media. It uses steganography to hide secret data within ordinary files in order to give the user a trail of how the information was shared and through which devices.

Second place: Dumela: Secure messaging and file sharing application

Prize: R10 000, courtesy of MTN

This team from Kimberley created the concept of a secure messaging and file-sharing application for government officials, to enable them to share confidential information via e-mail, safely and securely.

Third place: Watchr

Prize: R5 000, courtesy of MTN

This team, called True Author, created the concept of Watchr, a tool that can be used to filter fake news on social media.

Overall winner

Tumelo Baloyi received the #SS19Hack Champion’s Trophy sponsored by the Tshimologong Digital Precinct. Baloyi created a solution for a crowd-sourcing volunteer platform in aiding disaster relief efforts. This was decided by the judges, based on the innovation score of the project.

Capture the flag

A new addition this year was the ‘capture the flag’ cyber challenge, with the ‘blue team’ defending a server against an online attack from the ‘red team’. The winning team had to break into the server and ‘hoist’ their ‘flag’, proving they had broken into the relevant server.

The teams were allowed to use whatever tech they had at their disposal in attacking or defending the designated server.

The capture the flag winners (all prizes by Snode):

· Johannesburg first place: Red team (R5 000)

· Johannesburg second place: Blue team (R3 000)

· Kimberley winner: CTRL+ALT+DLT (R2 000)


The judges adjudicating the final presentations were:

Doreen Mokoena, ZADNA

Lucy Motsieloa, PwC

Seth Robbertse, Micro Focus

Kendal Makgamathe, Tshimologong

Sorene Assefa, Cyber Czar


Ivan Regasek, ITWeb

Ridewaan Hanslo, CSIR

Steve Jump, Telkom

Solomon Bhala, PwC

Bernard Mashala, Transet

Nithen Naidoo, Snode

Francois Mouton, Cyanre

Icconies Ramatsakane, PwC

Gift Nyembe, PwC

Marco Loots, PwC

Michael van Rensburg, Snode

Tsholofelo Rantao, PwC

Thulisile Dlamini, Ikusasa Tech Solutions