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How CTFs improve your cyber security skills – A professionals experience

As a student at INSA Val de Loire in France, Lorin participated in the European Cyber Week (ECW) 2016 and 2017 CTF challenges. Having experienced the challenges as a participant, Lorin knows how formative such a challenge can be. 

“Participating in ‘Capture The Flag Challenges (CTF)’ should be on every cyber security student’s list. Of course, you can win prizes, however CTFs give a unique training that you would not get in your standard uni courses. It offers you the opportunity to get to know a new context, that of the industry, by applying what you have learnt, or what you will learn.”

How does the ECW CTF work? 

After a successful preselection as an individual, the participants will then participate in the challenge with other team members from their school. Each year, France invites other European countries to compete in this challenge. The final will then be held in Rennes, France during the European Cyber Week. 

Acting as a team can be really beneficial in order to capture all the flags. Everyone brings different skills. For example, I have a software development background, my team members others (e.g. Reverse Engineering, Web Security, Application Cracking (PWN), Forensics, Windows, Network, etc.). This allowed us to actually compete with a diverse skillset and it was also just nice to be able to join this competition as a team against others.” 

What makes this CTF special? 

The ECW final organised by Airbus CyberSecurity stands out in comparison to other CTF challenges. The simulation of a complete network infrastructure instead of a succession of static challenges or access to a single virtual machine, makes it very special and unique. It shows the ability to model realistic infrastructure thanks to the CyberRange used as the “engine” of the ECW final. 

This offence/defence challenge in a virtual environment demands great technical knowledge from the team; one of the reasons why I joined the Airbus CyberSecurity CyberRange development team in 2018 after my studies in IT Security. Changing from the participant side to the developer side, was a great step for me. Quickly after joining, I created a challenge on the security of containers. It was amazing to actually develop four challenges in my field of expertise and to pass on my technical knowledge that I myself gained during these challenges, to the participants.” 

If you could give one advice to participants, what would this be? 

Stay motivated! You will need a lot of stamina to finish a CTF, however it is really worth it. You will see that you will have learnt so much during this time, even if you don’t leave as the winner. A CTF offers you a unique opportunity to grow, to discover new environments and new mechanisms. You will perhaps struggle at certain points, but keep going.” 

 

Do you also want to participate in this year’s ECW CTF and follow the path of Lorin? You have until 10th October to preregister for this challenge. 

Preregister here.

 

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