Largest Nordic CTF team among top 12% at CTF

For 48 hours this week, around 50 students from HiG formed a team to compete with 707 teams from all over the world in a contest in applied information security ( CTF). The goal of this “Capture the flag” competition in information security was to solve several practical information security challenges, comprising web application vulnerabilities, QR codes, reverse engineering, elliptic curve cryptography, and more.

Competition was fierce. Many of the teams had experience from similar competitions and study at highly-reputed universities. Our competitors got curious when we started to use aliases on the IRC channel with a common „hig“ prefix. One by one there were more HiG people joining the channel, prompting questions -„What is HiG?“ -„Gjøvik University College in Norway“… HiG’s team was formed by students in software security (3rd year bachelor in information security) and students attending ethical hacking and penetration testing (3rd year bachelor and 2nd year master in information security). Students applied the knowledge gained in their study programmes and organised themselves into small groups focusing on one challenge at a time. Competition started Tuesday morning and was completed Thursday morning.

Pointwise unimportant overall, but quite funny was a challenge that required to open a specific web page from computers with IP addresses belonging to as many country top-level domains as possible. HiG scored best here of all teams: 150 domains out of 222. Our approaches involved open proxies (network security), Tor exit nodes (privacy), personal contact networks (internationalisation), and social engineering (information warfare).

For the third year in a row, I threw students into cold water and expected them to swim. They finished with rank 47 based on the score for challenges solved. 708 teams participated worldwide, 413 of them scored more than 0 points. This means that HiG came out in the top 12% of all active teams, an improvement over last year’s top 17%. HiG had the best team in Norway, all six other Norwegian teams scored fewer points. In the Nordic countries, a Swedish and a Danish team scored better than HiG.

Students considered the activity to be fun and a rich learning experience, and recommended to repeat the exercise next year.

Thanks to all who supported the event.

About Author: Hanno Langweg

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