Objective 2: Where in the World is Caramel Santaigo? - 2021 SANS Holiday Hack Challenge

3 minute read

In this challenge we use some Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT) skills to follow the tracks of one of the elves around the world.

Play the 2021 SANS Holiday Hack Challenge


Help Tangle Coalbox find a wayward elf in Santa’s courtyard.

Apparently some elves have gone on trips around the globe and we need to track them down. There are two things we need to determine here:

  1. Where did the elf go?
  2. Which elf is it?


When we click on the terminal, it opens a window that we can use our mouse to interact with. After clicking “Start Game!”, we’re shown this screen:

Startup Screen

We’re given a few options:

  1. Investigate
    • This is where we get hints to where the elf might be.
    • We’ll immediately list these out each time we get to a new location.
  2. Visit InterRink
    • Here we can input facts we know about the elf to help determine which elf it is.
  3. Depart by sleigh
    • Once we know where to go, we can use this to go to the next location and get the next set of hints.

Note: Each time you do this challenge, it is a bit different, so you may not get the exact same set of hints and locations that I did. However, the same principles apply.

Santa’s Castle

We start the journey at Santa’s Castle.

Investigate Hints:

  • They said, if asked, they would describe their next location in three words as “frozen, push, and tamed.”
  • They were checking the Ofcom frequency table to see what amateur frequencies they could use while there.
  • They were dressed for 8.0°C and partly cloudy conditions. They kept checking their Twitter app.

We can add Twitter as the “preferred social medium” in InterRink. Hitting “Filter Elves” shows us that only three elves prefer Twitter:

  • Sparkle Redberry
  • Fitzy Shortstack
  • Eve Snowshoes

“frozen, push, and tamed” sounds like a what3words location to me (what3words was a hint given by the elf after the Document Analysis challenge). And as it turns out, it is: https://what3words.com/frozen.push.tamed

This points to London, England.

Another meaningful clue I can see here is the word “Ofcom”. A quick google of the word shows us that Ofcom is the UK’s Office of Communications.

Next Destination: London, England


Investigate Hints:

  • They said, if asked, they would describe their next location as “staring desire frost.”
  • Having trouble typing that letter? It’s UNICODE 00ED or 0237 on the number pad in Windows.
  • They were dressed for 1.0°C and heavy snow conditions. The elf got really heated about using spaces for indents.

This doesn’t really make it clear if they prefer tabs or spaces, so we can’t be too sure there.

“staring desire frost” sounds like another what3words location. It points to Reykjavík, Iceland: https://what3words.com/staring.desire.frost

Also, UNICODE 00ED is “í”, which is described as “Latin Small Letter I with Acute.”

According to Wikipedia:

í (i-acute) is a letter in the Faroese, Hungarian, Icelandic, Czech, Slovak, and Tatar languages, where it often indicates a long /i/ vowel (ee in English word feel). This form also appears in Catalan, Irish, Italian, Occitan, Portuguese, Spanish, Aragonese, Galician, Leonese, Navajo, and Vietnamese language as a variant of the letter “i”. In Latin, the long i ⟨ꟾ⟩ is used instead of ⟨í⟩ for a long i-vowel.

So that’s another point for Iceland. Bonus points because Reykjavík actually has that character in its name.

Next Location: Reykjavík, Iceland


Investigate Hints:

  • They said something about MGRS 32U NU 05939 98268…
  • Apparently they really wanted to see what a town hall looks like when it’s converted into a giant Advent calendar!
  • They were dressed for 1.0°C and partly cloudy conditions. Oh, I noticed they had a Doctor Who themed phone case.

Ok, so they’re a doctor Who fan. Entering that into InterRink tells us that we’re dealing with Eve Snowshoes for sure.

MGRS stands for Military Grid Reference System, which is “the geocoordinate standard used by NATO militaries for locating points on Earth”. (MGRS was the other hint given by the elf after the Document Analysis challenge)

The MGRS coordinate is: 32U NU 05939 98268

A quick google search brings up this site: https://mappingsupport.com/p2/coordinates-mgrs-gissurfer-maps.html

The site is kind of hard to use, but it works.

32U is pretty much all Germany. NU points us to the south of Germany. The 0 and 9 in the last two groupings point us roughtly towards Stuttgart, Germany.

Some additional googling about Stuttgart and an advent calendar in the town hall seems to confirm this suspicion: https://www.alamy.com/stuttgart-germany-december-19-2010-advent-calendar-in-the-town-hall-windows-image338142539.html

Next Destination: Stuttgart, Germany

Stuttgart, Germany

Investigate Hints: All of the investigate steps say “You just missed the Elf!” After checking all of the Investigation hints, we’re asked to name the elf.

Answer: Eve Snowshoes