Capture the Flag (CTF) used to be a kids’ outdoor game. Now it is organized all over the world as an educational exercise in cyber-security.
Amrita organized India’s first-ever CTF contest last year. Now Amrita will participate, by invitation, in a top international CTF contest in Russia.
Of the competing ten teams, one is from Carnegie Mellon University in the US, eight are from Russia, and one is from Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham in India. The Amrita team comprises students and recent graduates, including Zubin Mitra, Radhesh Krishnan, Avinash Joshi, Varun Ramani and Hrishikesh Murali.
Zubin Mitra and Radhesh Krishnan are final-year engineering students of IT and CSE respectively. Avinash Joshi and Varun Ramani are currently employed as Research Assistants at the Amrita Center for Cyber-security. Hrishikesh Murali is a recent Amrita B.Tech. graduate, currently pursuing M.Tech. at IIIT Bangalore.
Named Positive Hack Days CTF (PHD CTF) 2011, the Russian contest is sponsored by Kaspersky Labs and Cisco. The Amrita team explained the mechanics of the contest.
“First, all teams will be provided identical servers with a predetermined set of vulnerable services. The goal is to find vulnerabilities, to close them at home and to use them to obtain sensitive information (flag), of the opposing teams.”
“During the contest, the system will be continuously monitored, new flags and vulnerabilities will be introduced, changing the gaming infrastructure.”
“Teams of young professionals will protect their network and attack enemy networks, within the time frame of eight hours.”
The contest will seek to unite hackers with information security company professionals, so that both understand how much they need each other.
“We have participated in a lot of CTF contests,” shared the Amrita team, that has made an impact in several international contests including ruCTF, HARCTF, CIPHER 5, UCSB ICTF, CIPHER 4, UCSB ICTF and CIPHER 3.
Their performance at these high-profile contests caught the attention of the PHD organizing committee, which invited them to participate in the upcoming PHD CTF on May 19 in Moscow. It will be organized by Positive Technologies, one of the few practitioner companies in the Russian information security market.
“It feels awesome, great to be invited for an international-level contest,” shared the Amrita team members.
Most of the team members started preparation for participation in these kinds of contests in the junior year of their engineering studies. “Our interest in cyber security was our motivation,” they shared.
May 2, 2011
Center for Cybersecurity, Amritapuri