The UCSB hosted yet another mega-contest featuring the best hacking minds in the world. Pizza, coffee and laptops were found in abundance on the premises last weekend, as young minds from over 40 countries did battle for the bragging rights and a $1,024 bounty.
The renowned university has been hosting the security oriented competition, called CTF, on an annual basis since 2001. The initial versions involved straightforward tasks and “live exercises”. But just three years later, the UCSB CTF went global and was eventually renamed iCTF.
iCTF organizers decided to spice up the event and introduced new competition designs. This year’s event boasted more than 1300 participants from all across the globe. The gifted computer students were split into 123 teams, 35 of them logging in from their home bases.
This year’s theme was “Nuclear Cyber-Warfare”. Event founder and coordinator Giovanni Vigna created a mock portal, consisting of 6 section pages. Some teams had to analyze the content and provide security solutions, while other teams were busy hacking into the website and compromising data (codenamed “flags”).
“The competition allows UCSB to prepare the cyber-cops of tomorrow,” Vigna said while highlighting the need for more computer security engineers to combat hacking.
Despite some stiff competition from the Russian, German and Australian participants, the “Chocolate Makers” from Italy won the competition. UCSB fielded two teams, “Army of Darkness” and “The Hexadecimators”, with both failing to impress. They felt much better when Vigna announced that the event was their end-quarter exam.
This annual competition is a great example of how to prepare today’s students for tomorrow’s security challenges. A new generation of security-savvy and competent students is making its way to the IT industry. With cyber-crime, malicious behavior and hacktivism on a steep rise, such activities and initiatives are the call of the hour.