CS Capture the Flag 2015

Following the recent topic of cryptography for high schoolers, here’s a cool event that popped up on the radar this week: HSCTF, a US-wide high school “capture the flag” style programming competition.

The week of May 17-24, 2015, students from across the US are invited to play a (everyone outside the US too, but they’re not eligible for prizes). Challenges include cryptography, reverse-engineering, and reconnaissance.

Ada Lovelace, reconnaissance guru
Ada Lovelace, reconnaissance guru

From the site:

CTF stands for “Capture the Flag” …

Certain pieces of information, called “flags”, are placed on servers, encrypted, hidden, or otherwise stored somewhere difficult to access. During the competition, different challenges are released which allow the participants to reverse engineer, break, hack, decrypt, and do whatever it takes to capture that flag. When a team submits this flag to a scoring page, they will get points.

What’s special about this CTF event? It’s for high schoolers, and it’s not just cryptography. It’s wider and cooler than that.

HSCTF (“High School Capture the Flag”) is the first CTF designed by high schoolers for high schoolers.

Unlike other CTFs, HSCTF isn’t purely about computer security. It extends the CTF model of competition to other areas of computer science such as the design and analysis of algorithms and programming languages. Each challenge will still have a flag, and most of our challenges will fall into the traditional CTF categories of cryptography, reverse engineering, programming languages, forensics, and recon.

This sounds like a lot of fun–cooperative and competitive and creative at the same time, just the kind of school activity I loved as a teenager (hey there, fellow mathletes, trivia buffs, and mock trial lawyers).

I can imagine there are going to be a lot of very intense (strung-out?) tech-loving teens across the country next week.

HSCTF teaser video