Application Received: 21
uni: 5 (KU)+ 4 (WRC) + 7 (Pulchowk) + 1 (Islington) + 1 (GCES) + 3 (Graduated)
uni-year: 1 (First), 3 (Second), 2 (Third), 12 (Final) + 3 (Graduated)
Candidates Interviewed: 19
Candidates Accepted: 18
track: 6 (Regular) + 5 (Specialized) + 7 (Audit)
Completion Rate: (11/18) 61%
Final Syllabus: Available at Notion
Student Submissions: The publicly available ones are available on the syllabus page.
CTFs Participated: 5+
Total Sponsored events: 3 TryHackMe + 3 PentesterLab + 3 National Cyber League subscriptions
Media Coverage: by NYU CCS,
At the end of the 2020 cycle, we asked the candidates in the program to:
Write a letter to our 2021 applicant telling them about your 2020 experience with gajabaar (250-500 words). Use this as a moment to reflect upon your past two months of working with us. What was your impression going in? Did we live up to it/surpass it/let you down? In what ways? Do you have tips for our future applicant?
The letters have been reproduced exactly as they were submitted (with possible exception of removing identification).
I gather that you are interested in the program but do not know if it is worth it. Well then, let this letter be the guide that will make the decision-making process better-informed, if not easier.
After my interview with the Gajabaar team, I was curious about the program but I was not the most eager beaver in the world. I would have liked to have gotten in but even if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have cried over it. Now that the program has ended, I realize that not getting into this program would have been the greatest regret of my life. In just a span of two odd months, I have learnt so much more about not just cyber-security but also computer science in general, about research, about self-studying, about analysis, and most importantly, about community.
The Gajabaar program has exposed me into a world I wasn’t privy to. A world of people who are not just interested in technology but who are willing to dive into the murky waters where you aren’t necessarily breaking it as much as bolstering it. Some of the assignments appeal to the treasure hunter in you, where you search and sift through piles of information to find that gold nugget. Some of the assignments test out your patience, and some test out your knowledge. I knew how to write nested SQL queries way before the program but only when I learnt SQL injection did I truly understand what SQL is doing, and how precarious it can be to use it as is. While these assignments are available for free and are in no way specific to Gajabaar, what Gajabaar does provide are pointers and cues. A helping hand to lift you up from the pits of frustration that you are likely to fall into more times than you would like to admit. And that is where this program shines the brightest. The sense of community and partnership. The mentors are as much your teachers as your friends. In the weekly office-hour sessions, you can get help regarding a particular assignment as well as talk about pretty much anything related to the world of cyber-security or even life and career. The lectures aren’t even traditional lectures. The mentor points you towards resources and might even provide you with a live demo. But from that point on you are on your own. Of course, you can always ask for help in the discord community, and the mentors and other experienced mentees will be more than happy to help you out. Bu the burden of work falls squarely upon your shoulders. If you are willing to put in the work, your shoulders will be ever more strong but if you slack off, the weight of assignments is enough to crush them too. And so it is that your experience with this program will solely depend upon how much time and effort you are willing to invest into it.
In many ways, the program is a roller coaster of emotions. You will feel stupid for having to refer to solutions constantly, you will feel frustrated for having missed a very simple exploit, but stick with it, labor on, and slowly but surely, you will be able to solve at least some of these assignments on your own. And trust me, nothing beats the sense of fulfillment you get when you do. If you are thinking of investing just a few hours per week and then, somehow getting by, you are going to be severely disappointed. But if you are buckling up for a grueling learning experience, you will be satisfied. And that is what this program really is — difficult but doable, challenging but fulfilling. and well, a helluva lot of fun. (eventually 😉)
Dear Gajabaar 2021 candidate,
Good job for submitting that application. You are in for an intensive 8 weeks of learning and perhaps making a friend or two. Some advice: start on your assignments early. It is going to take more than 10 hours every week. Speak up during the lectures/meetings!
All the best,
If your Gajabaar form is anything like the form we filled in 2020, it should be an indication enough of what lies in store for you and I mean that in a quite literal sense. You see, I personally had to learn a whole new programming language just to be able to fill out the form. And if a program makes you learn even BEFORE it starts, you know exactly what that program is going to be like! In your case, if you enjoyed filling out the form and expressing yourself, the mentorship program will be just that. If you thought it was a hassle, well, let’s buckle up. Either way, you’re in for a ride of a lifetime.
As one great professor put it “It is not about where you end up relative to others by the end of the program, it is about where you end up relative to yourself at the start of the program.” Let the fact that I can’t view a web page without thinking of any possible vulnerabilities it might have, be a testament to the fact that Gajabaar instills a CyberSecurity mindset in you.
I know many of you are new to this field. Some are very enthusiastic but don’t know how to begin with. And some of you need an environment to test your skills, grow and compete. Me and my fellow colleagues were dealing with the same feelings that you might have.
Gajabaar was my first step in the cyber security learning process. It was challenging to keep up with the tasks and different vulnerability challenges. It started easy and every week it ramped up. After all, it was what I signed up for. Every week taught a lot. There were tons of challenges and resources. The mentors and the colleagues were very friendly and there was no communication gap. There were tons of write-ups to to do each week after cracking the problems and I never thought, just the mere act of expressing what you did would be so satisfying. It just fueled the enthusiasm for learning and practicing.
I know it lasted only 8 weeks, but boy, it was hectic and random. Every week there were new things to try on. There were research papers on some, and it was fascinating to find to what extent people are researching in this field. The video conference each week rejuvenated me to keep doing more. It was a journey and I will remember this for a long time. After all, it’s all about the impact that this journey made in my life.
Also, an advice, don’t stall. It just piles up and that’s no fun. Enjoy every week as next week brings a fresh lot of stuff to keep you busy.
Dear 2021 Applicants,
If you are reading this, feel blessed that you survived the devastating year, 2020. Gajabaar started in July 2020. It was the mid Lockdown season in Nepal and in other countries worldwide. As per I know, our mentors tried to utilize this leisure period in something productive and this is how Gajabaar was created.
I was very new to cyber security then. I had barely used Linux OS; I did not know what CTFs are; what a cyber security professional does. When I was interviewed, I told them these things so clearly. I told them I did not know the basics; I just knew a word cyber security and I was fascinated by that word. But of course I got selected; or else I would not be writing this.
Then it started. Throughout the journey, the mentors guided us as per our requirements and caliber. They knew what would be difficult for me and what would make my path easier. Often in many labs and CTFs, I would feel it difficult to understand a problem, its motive, process or anything else. They were always ready to guide me through any sort of situation, be it via code analysis, examples, blogs, write-ups, interaction through calls, etc. They never stopped until I was satisfied with the solution. I remember, once I wanted to calculate the length of a text (which was quite away from the track); there were other easy solutions for the actual problem. But because I was so focused to solve the problem on my own way, my mentor and I sat in a video call for around an hr until we found the solution and I understood the concept. This is how much passionate they are towards guiding us.
Our discussions was not limited to the mentors, I would talk to other participants, learn from them and guide them. I never felt missed out or any sort of demotivating energy from the Gajabaar team. They always encouraged me, made it easy for me to share my opinion or my issue. Gajabaar was so flexible that I rarely felt I would not be able to complete a session or my other activities would get disturbed if I devote to gajabaar. I always learned new things throughout the session. And I am really grateful to all my mentors, my fellow participants and this opportunity.
It is totally fine even if you have never used linux, or windows or do not know security terminologies or never interacted with security stuffs, just like me. I can assure, you would never regret joining Gajabaar team. It does not require any prequalifications and experiences. Here, you will always be around positive energy and motivated people.
To The Gajabaar
Respected Sir / Miss,
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for hosting Gajabaar 2020 and having me as a part of this journey. Past two months have been undoubtedly the most productive days of my 4 years at BE. I have so much respect to all the mentors and friends for where we have gone with this programme. I would just try to summarize my experience with the Gajabaar throughout and the positive impacts it made upon me.
It all started two months back, we were all locked up in our rooms for the COVID pandemic, so was I, just chilling watching movies and playing games. Let me be honest, the first two months of quarantine I did nothing just sometimes final year’s Major Project work. We had a google form on class group about this programme called gajabaar related to cyber security. I was very much interested in the field, was trying to get in but the vast scope and contents to cover all over the internet, it was very difficult for me to really get the initial start. I would just play random ctf’s sometime or spend most of time trying to learn a new js framework. I had a good background with python and linux (thought so). So I applied for it, interview went well and was accepted for the programme.
The programme was focused for all the people interested irrespective of their background. So first few assignments were related to basic linux and scripting. It was this time I realized what I thought of my skills was wrong. I would struggle with basic linux challenges and forget commands again and again. I realized that having used linux as first OS for few years I had scratched nothing but all those most common 10 commands only. The labs were really helpful and doing them gave me more expoure to the commands and short tricks and new concepts and how linux file systems work, all together it was fun. After that we had labs on sql injection and did some sql challenges, went on with natas and other online challenges. I also started doing rooms in Try Hack Me, its an awesome learning site for begineers, well guided and has many rooms to learn different concepts from. After some 2-3 weeks I was really addicted to it, so I quit facebook to focus, used to spend lots of time on socials, but started using Twitter, followed some well known personalities in this community and believe me twitter’s cyber community is so helpful. They are always posting about new contents and news. I also got an one month subscription from one of the guy on Try Hack Me for free ! Since then I have been trying to do atleast one room a day. I remember when I was at my first week I participated on a CTF called NahamCon, struggled at it, could only solve basic challenges. But coincidently we had a HacktivityCon2020 CTF at the final week, we participated as a team. I bagged 1960 points and a rank 120. I mean it wasn’t much but really showed what progress I had in this 8 weeks. This time I could solve atleast two from all the categories and had the idea of the exploit if not get the flag. My next goal is top 100 in the next CTF.
After all this, I think I have passed over that first initial step I needed which I was searching when I had none to guide. Now I atleast know the roadmap to follow. I am thankful to everyone who’s been part of this journey and would love to continue it for the following days too together.
To whom it may concern
I am delighted to write this letter as my experience with gajabaar. If you are the one who is considering to get mentorship and take a step forward building your career. Gajabaar would be fantastic learning opportunities for you.
Gaajabar certainly will surpass your expectation. With weekely sessions about new topic and syallabus that keeps updating according to your progress and assignments, they will make sure you are at the point when you are ready before introducing you to new topics and challenges.
The mentors are very helpful and always ready to give you time one to one whenever you are struck somewhere during the learning process.
The only tips I can give to future applicants to gajabaar is to ask question to your mentor (LIke a LOT) and practice because there is a difference between knowing how to ride a car and actually riding a car.
At last I want to thank Gajabaar whole team for providing me with such great opportunities and teaching me some awesome stuffs.
PS: The biggest achievement that i got from this programme is that it made my habit to practice and keep learning new things, which is the ultimate goal of every students.
Gajabaar program is one of the best programs that I have been to. I find myself lucky to be enrolled in this program. There are multiple aspects of Gajabaar that I feel really impressed about. It is one of the best programs for those who wish to learn about cybersecurity. Cybersecurity is a vast field, and I think that without problem guidance and continuous help, it is difficult to set in this field and even more challenging to continue. The seniors in the Gajabaar have helped us in this field. They had provided us with the curriculum for multiple weeks and provided us with guidance and help if needed. The seniors in the Gajabaar are cooperative, and they support us to the extent that we feel unreal.
The next best thing about Gajabaar is the feeling of the classroom. There are multiple other students from different colleges, which gives us a sense of the classroom. The discussion and questions asked by other students and the help of seniors in this aspect really motivates us to strive forward and work harder. Similarly, I feel that the program has really helped me improve myself in the case of cybersecurity rapidly. If I had been studying this topic on my own, I would have been derailed and demotivated time to time again but with the help of Gajabaar I didn’t feel demotivated, I felt my own growth in learning and skills, I felt excitement while doing labs and submitting it and so on.
From my point of view, those who are learning the cybersecurity should apply for the Gajabaar as it certainly provides you more than what you asked for. Actually as a gajabaar candiate, I feel so impressed, satisfied from the gajabar team and expectation went really nice. Team helped me through each and every trouble that I faced past 2 months. Weekly guiding strategic for us was really a impressive one.
So for 2021 candiate I would like to convey a message that enrolling in gajabaar will change your view what actually is a Cyber Security and the carrier in this field through the practical labs which will be like a real world type.
There is a thing Prashant dai told in our last interview that has stuck with me, the position of anyone in their lives is dependent a lot on chances. Some would call it luck, but it is just grabbing the opportunity when it presents itself by accounting on how the opportunity affects your future. Trust me when I say this gajabar is one of such opportunity. Firstly let me tell you what gajabar is not, it is no an course which will make you a “HACKER” nor will you learn everything upon completion of gajabar. I have completed it and I won’t claim I know much of anything. But this is not because gajabar doesn’t teach you much. It’s simply because cybersecurity is a vast topic, and even a simple single part cannot be condensed to a single course. One requires years of training and study to master anything in this space. The only way to learn is frankly reading up on any topic and mastering it through practice. And that is where gajabar excels, before I joined the only thing I knew was a little of terminal (which made me look like a cool hacker in the eyes of GUI users ) and some programming experience. I didn’t know what should I study to get into the field, now I have a roadmap on how I will study this field for 5-6 years. And I have people who have been in the field for a long, whom I can send a mail whenever I am stuck. gajabar teaches you how to get into cybersecurity. The weekly assignments (believe me there will be many ) will not only help you learn quite a bit and introduce you to a lot of new concepts but will teach you the requirements and possibilities in the field. It will teach you how to approach a new topic and excel in it. You will get an opportunity to interact with people from different parts of the globe which gives you a new perspective on things and see the world from a different light.
gajabar showed me what my passion was, and gave me a dream which I hope to purse moving forward. gajabar may be that opportunity for you, the question now becomes are you ready to grab it.