Three computer science students emerged as winners at Hofstra’s 3rd Annual Capture the Flag cybersecurity competition. Over a 24-hour period, students were asked to defend their computer servers and attack their competitors’ potential vulnerabilities.
Twenty-seven students participated in this year’s competition, which was held in the DeMatteis School of Engineering and Applied Science Big Data Lab. Each student was given a Linux image server, loaded with two vulnerable web applications. In the first stage of the competition, students tried to capture special tokens (called flags) from opponents. During the second stage, students attacked their competitors by resetting passwords, cutting network access and erasing the entire file system. Students were judged and awarded flags for each successful exploit, and assessed by the quality of the defense of their servers.
“Being able to identify a vulnerability and figure out how to use that to exploit a system is an example of the types of problem solving skills that are crucial to someone pursuing a career in cybersecurity,” said George Osterweil ’20 who placed first. “Persistence is also important. I was behind for a while but continued to look for new openings and opportunities to exploit my competitors.”
Logan Kerr ’20 and Jonathan Harrity ‘20 took second and third place.
“This is an opportunity for our students to practice their cybersecurity skills in a real environment,” said Dr. Xiang Fu, Ph.D, associate professor of computer science. “It gives them a chance to gain valuable experience implementing attack and defense strategies that will serve them well in their future careers.”
The Capture the Flag competition complements the new BS in Computer Science and Cybersecurity program launched last spring and gives students hands-on experience using skills they will need to be successful in the information security industry.