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What is a CTF?

A CTF, or "Capture the Flag" competition, is a type of computer security contest. Strings of text, referred to as "flags," are hidden or encrypted in a series of challenges. During the competition, participants try to decrypt, hack, reverse-engineer, or exploit the challenges in order to gain access to the flag. For each flag retrieved, the team gets a certain number of points, and teams with the most points win.

How will UTCTF be run?

UTCTF will consist of several dozen problems that gradually increase in difficulty (and point value). The categories will include Binary Exploitation, Algorithms, Reverse Engineering, Cryptography, Web, and others. Some problems can be solved in a matter of minutes, while others may take hours. The source code and problem solutions will be released after the competition has ended.

Who can compete?

UTCTF will be open to anyone around the world, but only students enrolled within a University or High School program within the United States will be eligible for prizes. There is no limit to team sizes, but we will only be shipping 4 prizes per team in the top 3. Team members do not need to be from the same school; however, prizes will only be shipped to one location.


6 PM US Central Time on March 6th, to 6 PM US Central Time on March 8th, 2020.


The competition will be completely free, and run entirely online - the only materials teams will need are a working computer with internet access and the ability to run desktop applications. Competitors should register online to form a team - registration will be opened soon, and can be done at any point before or during the contest.

What constitutes cheating?

In general, use common-sense rules: Attacking or exploiting the server, other teams, or machines not explicitly designated as targets within the problems is considered cheating. This includes both breaking into such machines and denying others access to them (for example, by altering a key or ping-flooding). Sharing keys or providing overly-revealing hints to other teams is cheating, as is being directly assisted by personnel outside the team (using tools from the internet is OK; asking people on the internet to help you solve the problem is not). We encourage you to solve problems in novel and creative ways using all available resources, but we do require that you solve them yourselves.


There will be prizes for the top 3 teams (in the United States)! More info about these to follow.

Who is running UTCTF?

UTCTF is being run by students at The University of Texas at Austin within the Information & Systems Security Society (ISSS).