Recruiting and Teaching with Capture The Flags

In today’s world, it seems like everything is insecure and vulnerable. Security has moved from an afterthought to front and center in government, education, and recruiting. Bringing the current workforce up to speed, and educating the next generation in the offensive and defensive cyber techniques is at the forefront of today’s digital education.

The information security industry has long had the solution to this problem. It’s a Capture The Flag competition.

Also known as CTFs, Capture The Flags are a kind of information security challenge where teams or individuals are pitted against one another in solving a multitude of cyber security themed challenges. These challenges range from hacking into a web server and extracting user information, to digitally fingerprinting a criminal through their computer usage. The diverse range of challenges simulates the problems that many security engineers encounter on a daily basis.

Many competitive hacking teams run CTFs to both train and identify new recruits. Many are doing so with our open source project CTFd.

CTFs have been used widely in the collegiate scene to introduce new students to information security. Many students’ first exposure to information security was a CTF and many cyber security clubs like HackUCF and The OSIRIS Lab run an internal CTF using CTFd.

to their members with CTFd!

CTFd has also been used in some of the largest CTFs in the world. The project was created for CSAW CTF and has been used by other companies and schools since. A notable example is the Car Hacking Village CTF at DEFCON 24 run by BugCrowd.


Capture The Flags have very diverse applications. Despite originally being used for teaching and testing information security skillsets, CTFd has been used in educational settings as alternatives to exams and homework. In NYU Tandon’s Intro to Computer Science course, the final exam was run as a CTF using CTFd! CTFd has even been used to teach kids about neuroscience!

The Brain Hackers Association

CTFd has also found it’s way into workshops and was used to much success in NYU Tandon’s GenCyber Summer Program for High School Women!

CTFs are fun for teams and individuals!

Even if you’re working with younger students, a Capture The Flag is a perfect way to introduce them to information security and start them on the path to becoming an exceptional computer hacker/engineer/programmer.

CTFd provides a dead simple interface to both users and organizers of CTF competitions. Organizers receive an easy to use administrative interface to manage users and challenges. Users receive an intuitive, familiar interface that doesn’t obfuscate what needs to be done. For both, CTFd bakes in the logic needed for scoreboard and challenges.

And if you don’t like the interface provided by CTFd, it’s completely customizable with themes and plugins. Take a look at some notable examples from the community:

(left to right) all running CTFd

CTFd is the platform from which you can present and deploy your challenges. It is very easy to setup and to deploy. If you’re interested in a managed instance of CTFd for you to run your CTF, or if you’re interested in a set of custom developed challenges to bolster your recruiting efforts or teach your students a topic, reach out to [email protected]

Integrate CTFs into of your educational or recruiting efforts and see how awesome it can be to learn something new.

Show Comments