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“sCTF was a worth-while learning experience for all of us. We feel the contest has elevated our caliber and has helped us strive for excellence in the field of cybersecurity.”

“The contest enabled us to learn many techniques to write secure code that cannot be easily hacked.”

“It was really a superb learning experience for us, for all our team members.”

Feedback from participants at SecurIT CTF (Capture the Flag) contest was overwhelmingly positive, as the testimonials above indicate. The contest that began six months ago drew 168 teams from colleges in 21 states of India. These participated in the preliminary learning round, and 81 teams were short-listed for the second round, where they competed in a six-hour long online challenge.

Finally 24 contestant teams were invited to Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham for the final six-hour long on-site contest that was conducted on the last day of the International Conference SecurIT. Here they would secure their custom applications developed with known vulnerabilities and also hack contestant applications.

These 24 teams included those from some of the best colleges in India, viz. IIIT Hyderabad, IIT Roorkee, NITs (Trichy, Calicut, Surathkal) and Vellore Institute of Technology, along with Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham.

“The main aim of the contest was to generate awareness in the student community about cyber security and secure coding practices,” explained Mr. Vipin Pavithran of Amrita, who played a key role in organizing the contest.

Mr. Vipin was aided by Sheshagiri, Bithin, Agosh and Aravind.

“Almost every day we hear about a new cyber crime or cyber attack ranging from stealing money to compromising nuclear reactors. Cyber crimes and cyber security incidents are growing exponentially and one of the main reasons for that is the fact that most developers are unaware of secure coding practices,” elaborated Mr. Vipin, during the inaugural ceremony.

“A good percentage of cyber attacks are due to the application developers and system administrators making very common mistakes such as not applying security patches on servers, not hardening operating systems, application servers, database servers and not sanitizing inputs to a web application. We have a real need for security education in the undergraduate level in both India and abroad. Our hope is that this contest will not only teach real world skills to teach students in both offensive and defensive techniques, but also help fill that void in security education,” he added.

Helping fill the void and receiving exposure to cryptography, reverse engineering, binary exploits and web exploits, the short-listed teams enthusiastically took up the challenge. After a grueling 6-hour contest, the top teams were selected from NIT Calicut, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, NIT Surathkal and Government College of Engineering, Thrissur.

Handing out prizes to the winners, Dr. Venkat Rangan said, “Our Chancellor Amma had earlier expressed that one of our goals should be to significantly elevate the awareness of students in this important field, create an excitement about the emerging area of cyber security, create an ambience for students to develop and hone their skills, so that we can make information secure and safe for all the citizens. We are glad to note that with the contest we have been able to do that, to a large extent.”

August 23, 2012
Amritapuri Campus


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