This blog post is part of the Random Sampling Singapore project. The Project aims to sample 100 places on the island of Singapore over a one year period in order to gain an unbiased and holistic view of the city state.
On a August day in 2021 we were hunting coordinates with Ryan Teoh, Cyber Security Specialist from Malaysia. We were on our way to the second coordinate number #45. We started from #38- a new beginning and walked over the bridge to the other side where our coordinate was located between two light industrial buildings in Teban Gardens Cres.
When we were walking over to the side my husband and his friend Ryan were talking cyberish. I couldn’t follow them anymore: “vulnerabilities…kill chain… red teaming…exploit…pentesting…jailbreak… cyber-hack-cyber” faded out and they were deeply hulled in this conversation about their shared passion.
We stopped on the street facing the location. A wonderful red double hibiscus bush in full bloom 🌺 was in front of us. In most cultures red hibiscus is the symbol for passion. After one day in bloom, the flower drops in the evening. Two of these dropped flowers we took as samples and were heading to Jurong Gardens.
While walking through Jurong Gardens later that day, the two Cyber Security specialists were still discussing various topics. Those two man have a never ending passion for their field. In my mind I tried to imagine how this passion can be transformed and conveyed to a broad spectrum of people. Like the bright red hibiscus flower, people should look at this passion. It should attract everyone and invite them to play with it. Cyber Security is crucial for everybody of us – our data, digital personalities, networks and money relies on a safe internet. We sometimes may not admit it – but homo digitalis needs this technology in the same way as water, food and air. Let’s see if art can be the translator for cyberish into a universal understandable language.
We brain stormed about Capture The Flags (CTF) and how they could be combined with Art to pique someone’s curiosity and interest. Capture the Flags are an essential part of Cyber Security conferences. The participants are trying to attack servers or mobile apps to identify ways to bypass security mechanisms. The first who can identify the vulnerability and get’s the so called “flag” (which is usually a hidden text to proof that you were able to exploit the vulnerability) and get’s points for it.
We decided to build a hackable art. Instead of a flag, the art work should interact with someone and reward you with an action.
We bought a “Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W”, which is only the size of a matchbox. This little device will be the technical heart of the installation and offers the following:
- a WiFi Access Point, that one can connect to,
- a LED ring that is connected to the Raspberry Pi and
- a Webserver that is offering a condo management portal to book a BBQ Pit.
Once the player has joined the WiFi and logged into the website a vulnerability need to be identified and exploited to find a way to make the LED ring blink.
The whole technical setup was packed into a Koi fish made out of beeds which is hanging inside of a fish trap. The Koi fish is magically lighting once being hacked 🙂
A story around the hackable art was yarned into beads textile and a rattan fishtrap from Cambodia. The story of a koi in a condo attacked by sharks is an analogy of an hacking attack, which the player is executing on the artwork. A cheat sheet is telling the storyline and is guiding the player through the game.
Details of the hackable artwork:
Watch out for hackathons and exhibitions to play with the hackable art! Soon I will announce it on my Instagram account.