Get started with Cyber Security in 25 Days - Learn the basics by doing a new, beginner friendly security challenge every day leading up to Christmas.

This is Advent of Cyber 2 from TryHackMe. This is basically a meta post.

I joined TryHackMe 242 days ago today; that must’ve been early April 2020. I wrote my first THM writeup on 13 April 2020 so that adds up. Anyway most of the rooms I’ve joined since - the newly released ones anyway - have less than about 1000 users typically. Last year they ran this Advent of Cyber (AoC) and it’s happening again this year; this year there are currently 17425 users for AoC. Why is it so popular? Several reasons I guess:

  1. it’s free to participate in
  2. it’s beginner level, and
  3. there are prizes!

But anyway that’s close to 20x the typical userbase for THM. What does that mean for the site? Well, it’s basically unusable over the VPN for free tier members (such as myself) both on AoC and on other rooms at the moment. There is a Cloudflare DDoS protection check that isn’t normally implemented and I’ve seen reports some users are having to complete Captchas, although I haven’t personally.

When I say unusable, I mean I can connect to the VPN and deploy a room, but if I try to (say) view a webpage in a room, several minutes passes and the browser throws a timeout message. So, effectively unusable.

To complete the AoC challenges so far (I’ve done three of them, they are beginner level) I’ve had to use the ‘attackbox’; this works okay. But it’s pretty clunky and I don’t much like it. I’ve been thinking of subscribing to the site; this does give some additional resources so it might make the site usable again during AoC (I assume it would) - if I do, I’ll write up my thoughts. If I don’t, there won’t be any THM for a while.


After I wrote this I started the next AoC challenge the following day; it was SQLi using sqlmap, no big deal. But with the laggy network the ‘attackbox’ wouldn’t finish dumping the database contents with sqlmap before it timed out (one hour per day for free tier users), so I literally couldn’t complete the task. Um, yeah. I’m not complaining because it’s free, but I’m definitely putting THM to one side until AoC is over and done with.