After last year’s success, the National Cyber Security Challenge has returned… and this time, with greater benefits!
Written by Martina Bonanno
The National Cyber Security Challenge is a Capture-the-Flag (CTF) competition that is being held year after year. Nowadays, CTFs have become competitions to demonstrate skill and expertise in attacking or defending computer resources. In the area of cybersecurity, this is an exercise in which flags are secretly hidden in purposefully vulnerable programs or websites. The flag in this context is typically a file or code participants recover and provide as proof of their successful penetration of defences. In this National Challenge, competitors will be redeeming these flags from the platform in view of its jeopardy nature.
The essence of such a challenge is puzzle solving, whereby each challenge is uniquely created by and for people who enjoy solving puzzles. Surely, beginners may find it frustrating at first; the goal of the challenge is never spelled out. However, with just enough persistence, motivation, and head-scratching, these challenges will be conquerable.
This is exactly what the National Cyber Security Challenge stands for. Cybersecurity is more than just ambitious processes and technologies. It’s the willingness to learn and to test yourself that truly make this area of information security so rewarding. Accordingly, the organisation of a national competition aspires for the instillment of an information security culture within youths, as well as to educate and attract amateurs and aspiring professionals to the area of cybersecurity.
This competition started Saturday, 18th June 2022 and set to end Saturday, 9th July 2022 – exactly three weeks for participants to delve deep into the 12 challenges that vary in nature and difficulty, hosted on the Hacking-Lab platform. These challenges which stem from domains such as web security, mobile security, crypto puzzles, reverse engineering, and forensics, are open to all Maltese nationals aged between 16 and 25 with an interest in cybersecurity.
Registrations are open until the end of the competition through the link mita.gov.mt/ncsc. All registrants must compete individually by solving as many challenges as they possibly can. The Hacking-Lab platform has made available a scoreboard which will collate ranks of the participants. The first three runners-up in this competition will be awarded vouchers ranging from €200 to €500. Furthermore, the 20 best performing individuals will be chosen to attend online and onsite training by international cybersecurity experts. This year’s trainers for the training bootcamp are actual competitors in high ranked international CTFs.
All this preparation will lead to the selection of the final 10 participants that will progress to represent Malta in the European Cyber Security Challenge (ECSC) to be held in Vienna, Austria, this September. The ECSC is organised every year by the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity, ENISA, through which it is a fantastic opportunity to meet Europe’s top cybersecurity minds of today and tomorrow. For this reason, MITA will be sponsoring the team in their journey.
The National Cyber Security Challenge is for sure a unique opportunity, as well as a chance to grow and learn by solving complex challenges in an environment like no other. The element of competition here is probably the most fun way of learning the trade while ensuring that whatever is learnt is well-retained alongside some great memories!