Capture the flag is known by many as a traditional outdoor game with fairly simple rules; two teams are divided up, each with the goal of gaining possession of the opposing side’s flag. Contrary to popular knowledge, capture the flag can also be played in the cybersecurity world, given some technical adjustments.
On Saturday, Feb. 9, Eastern Washington University’s Cybersecurity Club took first place in the lower division for the 2019 Spokane Mayor’s Cyber Cup challenge, a capture the flag-style competition designed to test the skills of cybersecurity students.
The official cybersecurity competition of Spokane, Washington, the Mayor’s Cyber Cup challenge involves a series of attack and defense mechanisms against possible real life scenarios involving web and machine exploitation.
Similar to a traditional capture the flag competition, students were given the task of exploiting a system to obtain its “flag,” or, in this case, phrase, from the opposing team.
Rodney Thomas, vice president of EWU’s Cybersecurity Club, helped coordinate the event at Gonzaga University and also took a role in creating such exploits.
“Security is paramount in the times we live in,” said Thomas. “It’s especially important for computer science students so they can learn to not make things that are vulnerable.”
For Eastern, the Spokane Mayor’s Cyber Cup challenge was just one step toward eventually participating in the Pacific Rim Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition, an event designed to test students’ abilities when dealing with professional hackers in real-world scenarios.
“There are approximately 1.5 million jobs open in the cybersecurity world,” said Stu Steiner, senior lecturer in computer science. “Out of all the United States institutions, last year they roughly graduated 95,000 students. There is a huge gap in the need versus what we can graduate.”
Those interested in pursuing a degree in computer science can visit EWU’s Computer Science page for more information.