Four Young Programmers Capture the Flag in Israel's First CSAW Student-led Cybersecurity Games

The 14th annual New York University Cyber Security Awareness Week (CSAW) games – already the world's largest and most comprehensive set of student-led security challenges – closed on Monday, November 13, in the last of five countries, setting records and surprises.

For the first time, the CSAW finals expanded to include Israeli students hosted by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. CSAW Israel was organised by BGU's Department of Software and Information Systems EngineeringBGU's Cyber Security Research Center, and the IBM Cyber Security Center of Excellence, located at BGU.

 


Students from across Europe were hosted by Grenoble INP-Esisar, in Valence, France for the first time – one of six engineering schools of the Grenoble Institute of Technology.

 

 

In Israel, four promising young programmers Captured the Flag and came in 23rd place worldwide.

 

   The first place team during the competition

 

 

The schools joined NYU Abu Dhabi,  which hosted finalists from the Middle East and North Africa; the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (IIT Kanpur), which attracts competitors to CSAW from all over India and, in the future, large parts of Asia; and CSAW founding institution NYU Tandon School of Engineering in Brooklyn.

 


More than 400 elite students from high school through doctoral programmes who had beaten over 12,000 participants from 98 countries in preliminary rounds gathered at four of the regional hubs November 9-11, 2017; in Israel, the CSAW finals ran November 12-13.

 


“The CSAW games have proved an outstanding tool to engage and educate students, and we are proud that this year we could reach students on three continents through our four university partners. Like us, they recognise that cybersecurity is borderless – and growing in opportunities for our students, with an anticipated shortfall of 1.8 million jobs worldwide by 2022," said NYU Tandon Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Ramesh Karri, the faculty lead for NYU CSAW.

 


"We were delighted to host the CSAW Capture the Flag event for the first time in Israel. The venue of the event was the Department's new Carole and Marcus Weinstein Cyber Security Building.  The ten finalist teams included a nice mix of students from various universities and high schools selected from a preliminary nationwide contest," said BGU Prof. Lior Rokach, chair of the Department of Software & Information Systems Engineering.

 


“IBM's Security Division, which is an established supporter of NYU's CSAW programme,  recognised that Ben-Gurion University is the proper venue, as a hub of cyber talent, for initiating a regional pillar of the programme in Israel", said Dr. Yaron Wolfsthal, Head of IBM's Cybersecurity Centre of Excellence in BGU, “We were pleased and proud to see the high participation level and the deep expertise that the Israeli contestants demonstrated in cracking the CTF's most difficult cyber-security challenges."

 

 

Capture The Flag


Players of all levels and ages registered for CTF, the flagship event of CSAW. After 48 hours of around-the-clock software hacking contests in September, a top-notch group of students bested nearly 2,400 teams from 95 countries to become finalists at the five global CSAW hubs. For 36 straight hours, 10 Israeli teams competed in the infamously difficult student CTF final competition. CTFs are considered essential training for students and cybersecurity professionals.

 


“I had the honour of leading this amazing competition, and to host the scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs of tomorrow! 150 groups participated in the semi-finals in September and only the top 10 got to the finals," said Dr. Erez Shalom, faculty lead for the CTF at BGU.

 

 


First Place – A team of four young programmers, none of whom has any academic training in cybersecurity. 
They took the lead early and led most of the way.

 


Second Place – A group of mathematics and computer science students studying in the University of Haifa's 
Challenge Programme for outstanding high school students.

 

  


Third Place – A group of “Atudai" undergraduate students studying software engineering 
at Machon Lev in Jerusalem.

 

 

The teams forwent sleep and ate little, relying on calisthenics, Pilates and Zumba led by Department of Software and Information Systems Engineering doctoral student Reut Dekel to stay awake and alert. NYU Tandon's Prof. Karri commended the winners' achievements in Israel's inaugural year at the conclusion of CTF/CSAW Israel.