Hack The Box Launches 5th Annual University CTF Competition

November 22, 2023

4 Min Read


Hack The Box (HTB), the leading gamified cybersecurity upskilling, certification, and talent assessment platform, is announcing its fifth annual global University Capture The Flag (CTF) competition that will take place from December 8 to 10, 2023. Targeting university students and higher education, the CTF marks a pivotal moment for the next generation of cyber professionals amidst a staggering 4 million talent shortage, aiming to upskill students with the latest techniques to outpace cyber-criminals.

Students Turn to Resources Outside of a Traditional Curriculum

The CTF also comes as HTB releases new research involving 2,800 university students who actively use the HTB platform. According to the findings, 75% of cybersecurity and IT students turn to HTB alongside their formal education. In light of the rapidly evolving threat landscape, 47% utilise the platform to enhance their overall cyber skills, while 24% turn to it to ready themselves for the dynamic cyber job market and workplace demands.

Notably, 83% of students see improved grades after upskilling on the platform; a number which demonstrates the importance of blending hands-on practical learning with traditional theory-based education.

Haris Pylarinos, CEO and Founder at Hack The Box,says: "Hands-on learning experiences are no longer optional but a necessity alongside university curricula. The trend of hiring based solely on degrees has been slowly fading in 2023, and this will help cut the red tape holding back an untapped pool of highly skilled cyber talent waiting in the wings."

"It's crucial to equip the next generation with cutting-edge skills, enhancing their academic performance while aligning them with real-world cyber threats before they enter the workforce. In the past year, we’ve seen threat actors go above and beyond, so we can't afford for graduates to be unprepared for real-world threats. This is why 2023 will be the first time we include offensive and defensive challenges, creating well-rounded cyber professionals who can out-pace cybercriminals."

Building Offensive and Defensive Skills for the Real World

This year's CTF will empower students to enhance offensive and defensive skills, building on HTB’s expansion into defensive security. This dual proficiency is more crucial than ever, given that HTB's research revealed 60% of professionals are now pursuing hybrid careers that blend offensive and defensive cybersecurity skills.

The CTF challenges are exclusively crafted for this event to enhance students' skills, preparing them for real-world cyber events. It will encompass 18 challenges across six categories, including crypto, pwn, web, forensics, and more. 

Last year, the University CTF attracted winners from prestigious institutions worldwide, including Hasso-Plattner Institute, ESNA, and EPFL Lausanne. Reflecting the growing interest in upskilling, HTBUniversity CTF experienced an 83% surge in team participation from 2021 to 2022, drawing almost 5,000 students.

Teams, comprising 1-30 students, have the flexibility to participate from any location. The CTF accommodates all skill levels, offering challenge categories ranging from 'Beginner to Hard,' accompanied by hacking workshops and talks the day before. Participants not only have the opportunity to win prizes totaling $67,900+, which include items and discounts, but also have the chance to earn swag and certificates of attendance for their active involvement.

Alireza Jolfaei, Program Leader of Master of IT in Cybersecurity, Macquarie University, says: “Hack The Box provides an intuitive and fun environment for top-class CTF events, making it easy for students to join, practice and compete. We have had 8 CTFs organised with HTB already and they have been valuable partners both in terms of developing high-quality custom content and providing professional, direct support before and during the CTF event. It’s proven to be an extremely effective way of keeping students engaged, with gamified approaches to practical study and friendly competition — all of which contribute to their employability on graduation.

Registrations are now open, sign up here.

About Hack The Box

Hack The Box is a leading gamified cybersecurity upskilling, certification, and talent assessment platform enabling individuals, businesses, government institutions, and universities to sharpen their offensive and defensive security expertise. Launched in 2017, Hack The Box brings together the largest global cybersecurity community of more than 2m platform members and is on a mission to create and connect cyber-ready humans and organizations through highly engaging hacking experiences that cultivate out-of-the-box thinking. Offering a fully guided and exploratory skills development environment, Hack The Box is the ideal solution for cybersecurity professionals and organizations to continuously enhance their cyber-attack readiness by improving their red, blue, and purple team capabilities. Rapidly growing its international footprint and reach, Hack The Box is headquartered in the UK, with additional offices in Greece and the US.

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