CTF’s: The Ultimate Test

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What is a CTF?

CTF stands for Capture The Flag, a style of hacking event where you have one goal: hack in and find the flag. Flags are placed in various locations — they might be in a file, in the database, stuck into source code, or otherwise — and your goal is to hunt them all down. Each flag looks something like ^FLAG³⁷ae568362f974017fa575f0293ee5324ba6769c$FLAG$ or flag{“BugBase 1s s0 co01”}, so you’ll know the instant you see one.

What exactly happens at CTF’s?

CTF (Capture The Flag) is a kind of information security competition that challenges contestants to solve a variety of tasks ranging from a scavenger hunt on Wikipedia to basic programming exercises to hacking your way into a server to steal data. In these challenges, the contestant is usually asked to find a specific piece of text that may be hidden on the server or behind a webpage. This goal is called the flag, hence the name!

Like many competitions, the skill level for CTFs varies between the events. Some are targeted towards professionals with experience operating on cybersecurity teams. These typically offer a large cash reward and can be held at a specific physical location. Other events target the high school and college student range, sometimes offering monetary support for education to those that place highly in the competition!

I’d like to stress that CTFs are available to everyone. Many misconceptions lie in the challenges as do not require programming knowledge and are simply a matter of problem-solving and creative thinking.

Types of CTF’s:

  • Cryptography — Typically involves decrypting or encrypting a piece of data
  • Steganography — Tasked with finding information hidden in files or images
  • Binary — Reverse engineering or exploiting a binary file
  • Web — Exploiting web pages to find the flag
  • Pwn — Exploiting a server to find the flag

Why do CTF’s?

The main reason CTF’s are held is to allow Infosec-centric people to practise their capabilities in real-life situations as well as meeting like-minded individuals and expand the horizon of their knowledge of the field of cybersecurity. Every CTF is different and always brings something new to learn to the table.

Other CTF resources:

Learning

http://ctfs.github.io/resources/ — Introduction to common CTF techniques such as cryptography, steganography, web exploits (Incomplete)

Resources

https://ctftime.org — CTF event tracker

Register on our website to get access to exclusive resources and hone your CTF skills: https://bugbase.in/

Conclusion

CTF is a great hobby for those interested in problem-solving and/or cybersecurity. The BugBase community is always welcoming and it can be a lot of fun tackling challenges with friends

BugBase is India’s first consolidated platform for companies to host crowdsourced bug bounty programs that can be reached out to by ethical hackers and develop a security enthusiasts community all over the country.

Our website: https://bugbase.in/

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BugBase - The BugGyaan Blog

BugBase - The BugGyaan Blog

India’s first consolidated Bug Bounty Platform’s technical blog by Aditya Arun Iyer