How to prepare for a Capture the Flag Hacking Competition

Hacking is not like the movies. Your motley crew is there to support you when you face off against a worthy adversary.
Most security jobs are boring, and you probably want them that way. Audit. Find vulnerabilities. Patch. Rinse and Repeat. Many security professionals, both new and experienced, participate in Capture the Flag competitions or use CTF challenges to keep their skills sharp.
CTF challenges are an excellent way to learn hacking skills, improve your problem-solving skills and get practical experience. CTF competitions provide the right amount of pressure to keep things exciting and help you sharpen your skills.
CTF competitions are a great way to test your skills, challenge yourself and perhaps even win bragging rights.
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What are capture-the-flag competitions?
Capture the Flag hacking contests are very similar to the first-person shooter mode. One team of players tries to capture the flag of an opposing team and defend their flag. CTF competitions usually involve a small piece of code, hardware, or a file. In other cases, the competition might progress through a series questions, such as a race.
They can be either one-off or ongoing challenges and fall under three main categories: Jeopardy and Attack-Defense.
Attack-Defense
This type of competition is closer to the backyard capture-the-flag game than the Jeopardy format. These events allow teams to defend their host PC and attack the target PCs of opposing teams. Each team is given a time limit to patch and secure the PC. The goal is to find as many vulnerabilities as possible so that the enemy attacking teams don’t strike. Each team receives points for successfully infiltrating other groups and preventing attacks from opposing teams. The team with more points wins.
Jeopardy CTF
Jeopardy-style CTFs provide contestants with a series of questions that reveal clues that will help them solve complex tasks in a certain order. Contestants can learn the best techniques and methods by revealing clues. Each task is awarded points to the team. You can earn more points for completing more difficult tasks.
Online CTF competitions will continue to be Jeopardy-style. It is easier to play alone and requires less coordination than an Attack and Defense competition.
Mixed Events
Mixed competitions, as the name implies, are a combination of Jeopardy or Attack-Defend formats. Sometimes organizers will break down the competition into separate events. Sometimes organizers will split teams into events so that they can compete in concurrent events of different types.
What is the difference between these hackathons and others?
Hackathons and CTF competitions allow teams to work together in a coordinated fashion within a set time limit. This is not the end of the comparison.
CTF competitions allow teams to bypass security systems and gain points by using known-or competitor-created exploits. It’s a game.
Hackathons are a more collaborative event that allows programmers and developers to show their creativity by creating a working program or application within a given time frame while adhering to specific criteria. Hackathons can be security-related but they are a general term.
Hackathon is the term for how an end product is “hacked together,” which is a popular phrase among homebrew and DIY enthusiasts circles and not as in “computer hacking.”
How to prepare for Capture the Flag contests
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