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Engage Your Team in Security with a Remote Hackathon During the Pandemic

Keeping up morale and productivity in times of crisis is paramount to any business, but at the end of the day we’re all in this together. Here are some tips to host your own remote hackathon.

We can no longer deny it, the world is a different place to what it was just a couple of weeks ago. Depending on your location, workplaces have had to adjust their employees' working environment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While some employees are forced to work remotely while under a lockdown issued by their country or state, a lot of workplaces are being extra socially responsible and proactive by asking those who can to work from home. This type of social distancing, while responsible and absolutely necessary during this crisis, can be difficult to adjust to both for companies and individuals, especially in the first few days.

Man participating in remote hackathon no gradientPhoto by 🇨🇭 Claudio Schwarz | @purzlbaum on Unsplash

Adapting to remote work

Not only does it take time and effort to get all remote workers set up to work from home, there are also a lot of day-to-day processes that need to be adapted to fit these new unfamiliar circumstances. No matter how much you try to prepare for the change, it's inevitable that daily work input decreases while employees get accustomed to the challenges that arise from working from home.

Things will, however, eventually start to smooth out and employees will start to catch up on their workload from home and we’ll all adopt a “new normal”. Once that happens it’s important not to lose focus on critical infrastructure such as cybersecurity. 

Check out this blog about the importance of keeping security top of mind during this crisis.

Keeping up morale

Another hidden risk to adjusting to a remote working environment is keeping up morale. Remote workers can easily become isolated, especially when we’re not used to it. The demoralizing aspects of this situation definitely do not help. Keeping up morale and productivity in times of crisis is paramount to any business, but at the end of the day we’re all in this together. At Adversary we’ve been reaching out to our customers and helping them set up a remote hackathon to keep their employees engaged in security during this time. But it’s not about security alone, it is also a great opportunity to bring workers together in a fun way and jump starting a new mindset of collaborative and productive work alone together.

Tips on hosting a remote hackathon 

Person working on laptop with stickersPhoto by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

After tackling our first few remote hackathons with customers on very short notice, we decided to share with you some tips on hosting your own to keep your teams engaged. Luckily the execution is quite simple and doesn’t require a lot of preparation. 

Research and select an appropriate cybersecurity training platform 

The first thing to do is to research the various secure coding platforms out on the market to use in the hackathon, if you do not already have a license for a training platform. If you have the time and resources in house, you could also create your own exercises. Every platform has their own strengths, so it’s important to choose something that aligns with your own security training goals and that you can foresee using for an ongoing training program. 

Determine who should participate

Next you should decide who should participate in the hackathon. Perhaps you’re a team lead and just want to do this for your own team, or perhaps you’re a software development manager or are in charge of security within your organization and would like all developers and IT staff to get engaged with security. 

Once you’ve decided who should participate, you need to decide whether or not the participation will be voluntary or mandatory. 

Find a time slot that accommodates different time zones

Decide when is the best time to host the hackathon. If you have teams working in different time zones that will participate, then it’s important to find a time that works for everyone. We suggest allocating about 2 hours for the entire event.

Determine a communication platform 

You are probably already using a communication platform at your organization, which might be the obvious choice, but depending on the features of that platform you might need to use something else. For example if you’d like to live stream the status of the hackathon, using a pure messaging tool might not be the best decision. 

Introduce the hackathon

Kickstart the hackathon with an introduction to the platform you have chosen to use, the rules of the competition, and the prizes that will be given out to the winners. It’s important to get everyone excited about the event and give them an incentive to do their best. 

Choose prizes for winners

We highly recommend handing out prizes to the winners. Prizes like e-gift cards that support local businesses are a great way to also support your local businesses and economies during this difficult time. 

Use this opportunity to jump start your security training program

Hosting a hackathon is a great way to gain momentum for a larger training program. If that’s your plan, announcing the new program at the end of the hackathon is a great way to take advantage of the atmosphere and get team members excited about this new initiative.

Whatever platform you choose and however you decide to host your remote hackathon, we hope these tips have helped. 

Sign up for our newly extended free trial

In light of the current pandemic, we are encouraging businesses to use this time to focus on corporate education and security. Because of that, we’ve just added new content to our free trial, which you can sign up for below.

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