April 18, 2018

Mason Partners for the Second Year in a Row With Student-led angstromCTF’s Cyber Competition

Written by Christina Batcheler

Mason’s School of Business, Mason’s Center for Assurance Research and Engineering (CARE) and Montgomery Blair High School’s Cybersecurity Club in Maryland partnered for the second year in a row for the student-led Cybersecurity Capture the Flag (CTF) Competition, angstromCTF.

“We were honored to be chosen as the academic partner again for this incredible student-led cyber competition that drew in thousands of participants and challenged by a range of cyber problems. Mentoring the next generation of cyber enthusiasts is an important element to the success of solving our country’s cybersecurity problems,” said J.P. Auffret, PhD, Director, Research Partnerships, School of Business; and associate director, Center for Assurance Research and Engineering, School of Engineering.

The ångstromCTF is a student-led competition that is designed to educate and inspire high school students through interactive hacking challenges. Teams of one to five competitors from around the globe used the ångstromCTF platform to access challenges in diverse areas of cybersecurity including cryptography, binary exploitation, and digital forensics, submitting answers called flags for each problem.

In its first year, student-led angstromCTF was a huge success with nearly 500 teams participating from around the U.S.. The second year proved even more successful with the following statistics:

  • 654 Scoring Teams
  • 96% Would Play Again
  • 25 Challenges
  • 2,320 Correct Flags
  • 205,575 Points Scored
  • 91% New Participants
  • 79 Countries
  • 36 U.S. States

A capture the flag (CTF) contest is a special kind of cybersecurity competition designed to challenge its participants to solve computer security problems and/or capture and defend computer systems. Typically, these competitions are team-based and attract a diverse range of participants, including students, enthusiasts, and professionals. A CTF competition may take a few short hours, an entire day or even multiple days. CTF competitions give students the opportunity to explore the exciting field of cybersecurity by cracking problems that are designed to mirror real-world vulnerabilities. By providing a safe and beginner-friendly platform for practicing computer security skills, participants can have a practical, fun, and engaging introduction to cybersecurity. The competition also includes more challenging problems for experienced high school competitors who will be able to compete for prizes.The ångstromCTF high school team worked to expand access to ångstromCTF through the launch of its new learning platform, which serve to help students from all backgrounds to learn the basic concepts behind cybersecurity.

CTF competitions have elevated from their humble roots to reach sport-level status, with thousands of individual games and leagues now taking place every year across the globe — including the annual DEF CON competition, one of the most prestigious CTF events in the world.

The third student-led ångstromCTF competition is planned for this coming spring with Mason again joining as Academic Partner.

For more information about the Mason partnership, please contact Christina Batcheler at cbatchel@gmu.edu and to learn more and sign up for the next competition, please go to https://twitter.com/angstromctf or https://angstromctf.com.