Free Competitions

Free Competitions
Free Competitions

CSAW Capture the Flag (CTF)

Sponsored by the Information Systems and Internet Security (ISIS) lab of NYU, CSAW CTF is a competition for undergraduates hoping to break into the cyber security field. Contestants are challenged with a series of real-world situations modeling all types of computer security problems.

ESC: Embedded Security Challenge

Billed as the only hardware security competition in the world, ESC is a team-based contest in which experts from the NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering compete with participating universities to attack the weaknesses of the target system and defend their own side.

NCCDC: National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition

The Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition system is the largest college-level cyber defense competition in the U.S. NCCDC focuses on the operational aspects of protecting corporate network infrastructures and business information systems. A variety of regional groups organize qualifying events.

NCL: National Cyber League

Founded in 2011, the NCL provides a virtual training ground for collegiate students to develop and practice their cyber security skills using next-generation simulated environments. It’s a year-round endeavor with regular seasonal events.


Created by the NCCDC, Panoply is a network security contest where teams are challenged to capture multiple targets and secure them from other teams in order to win. Teams accumulate points for controlling and operating critical services such as SMTP, DNS, HTTP, HTTPS, SSH, etc.


Run by Carnegie Mellon University, Pitcoctf bills itself as the world’s largest computer security competition for middle and high school students. Contestants have to complete a series of engineering, hacking and decryption challenges to win money prizes.


Administered by HP’s Zero Day Initiative, this hacking contest challenges security researchers to demonstrate flaws in popular consumer and enterprise software platforms. Prizes of over $100,000 are offered for the most challenging exploits. It usually takes place at the annual CanSecWest conference.


Google’s Pwnium competition is typically held in tandem with HP’s Pwn2Own contest at the CanSecWest conference. It invites white hat hackers to do their best at finding vulnerabilities in Chrome OS. In 2014, it put up $2.7 million in potential prize money.

SANS NetWars

SANS has a whole host of interactive training contests, including a simulated CyberCity, where you can test your skills in real-world scenarios. SANS also hosts a Tournament of Champions at its annual CDI conference, in which past security challenge and NetWars winners are invited to face off.

U.S. Cyber Challenge

The goal is to find 10,000 of America’s best and brightest cyber security professionals. The method is a series of competitions, including an online Cyber Quest contest and a Capture the Flag battle at the annual USCC Summer Camp.