When Dropbox announced “The Great Dropbox Space Race”—offering up two years’ worth of free online storage space for everyone at the winner’s school—last week, MIT was in fourth place, falling behind three international schools with a much larger student body.
But, the tech-savvy couldn’t let Dropbox founder and CEO Drew Houston down. MIT is his alma mater after all, and the birthplace of Dropbox. Had it not been for Houston forgetting his USB drive while roaming the inter-connected Cambridge halls, the Space Race wouldn’t even be happening.
Sure, MIT held the number one spot on the United States Leaderboard, but that wasn’t enough. The “swagger” they once had was replaced with both a limp and this “Gangnam Style” parody video, or so says one blogger who goes on to detail how the Institute did what the Institute does best: hack the system.
Just one disclaimer?
Please don’t try this at home! It’s left one of us without access to MIT’s network.
The process included generating a slew of mit.edu email addresses and creating 1,000 mailing lists. Considering the only way to receive points is to have someone install Dropbox on their computer, however, the process got a bit tricky, especially when the students were told, “This referral looks sketchy.” They found a solution, however, setting up two Linux boxes and installing Dropbox on both, finding the flag in the system when you log on as a specific user.
Yet, actually installing Dropbox only gets you one point. Schools are rewarded two points for each person that goes through the “Get Started” guide, which they hacked, as well. Even better, they pegged their server “Houston,” writing:
Pronounced like the city in Texas, not the street in New York, and certainly not Drew Houston’s last name. Although, we do get a chuckle from the idea of someone calling Drew and saying “Houston, we have a problem.”
Their application used six different queues and four different processes, and you can see the entire hack in detail step-by-step here.
MIT is now in first place, with 15,178 Space Racers and 37,508 points, beating out the second place National University of Singapore. What Houston has to say about this, who knows, although our guess is, it’s a feeling similar to that of a proud parent. When you don’t win—hack.