Defcon 13

General Info | What is the CtF? | How to Apply

DEFCON 13 General Information

An evil large multinational corporation, or...
An nefarious group of genius autonomous hackers, or...
A shadowy government organization from somewhere in the world

Host, recreate, and innovate the worlds most (in)famous hacking contest.

For everlasting fame, intrusive media interviews, the respect of your
peers, or the envy of your enemies.

Do you have what it takes and know what we're talking about?

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What is the CtF?

The Story:
After taking it to the next level, creating a spectators sport out of geeks sitting at their keyboards 0wning machines, and fabulous recognition around the world, the Ghetto Hackers have retired their Root Foo as the hosts of DEFCON's Capture The Flag. Our contest is not over, merely in transition to the next keepers of the flame. This is the opportunity you and your crew, company, or government has been waiting for.

You too can pour your heart, countless hundreds of hours into planning, producing, and executing the world's most famous contest of hacking skills. Like all of our contests, they are run by volunteers.

Our intent is to make a game that's fun for its participants. While the Ghetto did a fabulous job of allowing CTF to be a team and spectators sport through scoring visualizations, commentators, game updates, et cetera, this is not a requirement. They took it to a new level in one area, and you can take it to another. The heart hacking has many facets.

Your constraints:
You must design a cool contest. This contest could have a multiplayer/team aspect, but does not have to. Your contest can be based on previous games, but shouldn't be a mere replication of previous games. You can determine the teams/participants before DEFCON, or at the conference. You can have multiple contests (for example, one contest with individuals, one with teams). You determine the constraints, size of teams, allowing remote teams to play, and more.

You design the network topology. You determine the rules. Your group will determine the winner, and the losers. The idea behind this CFP is not to ask people to reproduce past Capture the Flags, but to have your group reinvent and create something new, based on the same ideas of creativity and energy. Challenge your friends!

Clearly communicate the rules to the participants before the contest, set up clear eligibility requirements (if any) before the conference, set up the network, provide any infrastructure that you wish to be part of the game, referee the game while it is taking place, create a scoring system, and determine winners. The easier it is for contestants to understand how to win, the more fair the contest will feel. The contest must end no later than two hours before the end of DEFCON (5pm Sunday) in order to provide time for final scoring and the awards ceremony.

Your contest MUST NOT:
Interfere with the DEFCON networks (ie: it must be a separate network), interfere with the 'live internet', involve non-consensual parties (ie: anyone who hasn't explicitly agreed to take part in the contests), take bribes that are not equally shared with the DEFCON staff.

In the past network traffic on CTF has been captured for later forensic analysis by groups such as shmoo, and Source Fire and shared with the community to further ids and network sniffer developers. Expect that we will give access to those wanting to capture traffic while not actively participating in the contest.

Allowing 'lone gunman' to participate (not require group play). This could be a separate contest, or they could participate in competition with teams (handicaps for teams, perhaps)

Allowing 'outside players', perhaps a VPN connection with one representative at DEFCON, the rest of a shadowy team located elsewhere in the globe.

Incorporating non intrusion/defense techniques to the game - stenography, covert communication channels, riddles/puzzles, social engineering, hardware hacking, radio direction finding, etc.

A 'theme' (like forensics, covert channels, attacking, defending, application security, host security, etc.) that would be announced beforehand with the contest focused around the theme.

You will be judged:
On any innovations or revolutionary enhancements to the game. On the feasibility of your team getting all the work done (note: we will publicly humiliate you if you get accepted and fail to perform!).
On the amount of fun (as measured in FunMeters) that participants will

Resources we can provide:

  • Badges to the conference and access to the CTF area for setup on Thursday, the day before the con.
  • Physical space roughly equal to that which has been provided at past DEFCONs.
  • Tables for participants to use.
  • Screens and LCD projectors to display data with.
  • Network connections from the net if necessary.
  • Some network gear and power strips - please let us know early what you need so we can plan for it.
  • Prizes for the winning people or teams.

Research pointers:

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So you want to design a game?

Here's the process:

  1. Fill out the application below. You will receive an acknowledgment that your submission was received within 48 business hours of us receiving it.
  2. We will use relatively simple criteria to judge your entry.
    1. Feasibility of your team pulling off this task,
    2. The amount of fun we image the participants will have with your contest
    3. the coolness or innovation you bring to the contests.
  3. We will contact finalists and ask them further questions, and talk over any questions that we will inevitably have.
  4. We will announce the winner(s) on XYZ date. It is possible that we will choose multiple teams that run concurrent contests that are different.
  5. We will hammer out details over the phone, participating in your game creation (not interfering with it, just ensuring everything is going smoothly). We will conference call with you and may fly you down to sunny Seattle to meet with us to discuss planning for the event.
How to Be Selected

All contact information will be kept private, and not disclosed outside the DEFCON planning organization.

About you and your group

  • Name of your organization:
  • Name of primary contact:
  • Email Address of Primary contact:
  • Phone number of primary contact
  • Number of people in your organization (that will actively be participating in creating/planning/executing CTF):
  • Experience team members have had in planning events (This could be a bake sale with 500 people, or a DoD briefings for 20 people, something that indicates some planning experience):
  • Technical ability of team (this would include a general list of people's abilities – networking, hardware, et cetera):
  • Physical resources (if any) that you will be bringing to help run CTF:
  • What experience have your team members had in playing CTF in the past (this is not a requirement, but shows real-world knowledge of the game as it has been played in the past)

Your Vision for CTF

  • Explain, in a general manner, your vision of your CTF.
  • Provide three reasons your group should host CTF.
  • How do players or teams qualify (if there are qualifications)?
  • Is it multi player or single-player, or a combination?
  • What innovations or new ideas are you bringing to CTF.
  • How long will the contest take, will it be 24x7, 8 hour shifts, etc?
  • What technical work is required to execute your plan. This includes
    • setting up environments beforehand, pre qualification work if any, writing a scoring system, etc.?
    • Give an outline of the rules that will be presented to the participants:
    • Why do you want to do this?
    • What hardware resources do you request or need from DEFCON?
    • Explain what you believe is the best way to gauge a hacker's abilities, and how your vision of the contest could do this?
    • Tell us anything else that you think may be important or that we might consider in choosing your group to host CTF.

Send it in! Deadline is March 31, 2005. Submissions go to ctf [at] defcon [d0t] org

A discussion area has been created on the DEFCON forums under the DEFCON 13 Events section to cover new ideas, ask for feedback, and get an idea of what is going on, new announcements will be on the main DEFCON web site.

Thank you,
The Dark Tangent

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This page last updated on: Thursday, August 18, 2005

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