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Embedded Capture the Flag Kicks Off

  • February 2, 2023

The 2023 Challenge has begun!

The annual MITRE Embedded Capture the Flag (eCTF) competition kicked off this week, beginning a semester long challenge that puts the future cyber workforce to the test: we task participants with not only developing security systems, but also immediately battle testing their work. Aside from being lively and engaging, this work is increasingly relevant, the embedded systems at the heart of the competition are becoming present in more and more devices found in everyday use.

A Unique Opportunity

The eCTF competition is highly effective because of its distinctive phases. After an initial system development phase, teams switch gears and attack other teams’ systems. Mistakes made in development are revealed and exploited by the attacks of others. Getting a chance to play both defense and offense creates a unique learning environment that inspires creativity, strategic thinking, and a rapid honing of cyber expertise. More than just an enjoyable enterprise, the competition is beneficial to students in both the short and long term. Students have fun (with many schools offering course credit for participation) and gain new skills, while also forming relationships that may lead to enhanced career opportunities. To bolster the value for students and because of our continued focus on workforce development, we have introduced corporate sponsors to this year’s competition. This creates opportunities for students to engage with leading companies in embedded systems and cybersecurity.

Broad Reach into the Future Workforce

Since its inception, the eCTF competition has realized more than 100% year over year growth in the number of teams participating and the roster of eCTF participants continues to grow. Registrant teams include dozens of universities (listed below), as well as multiple career centers, high schools and extracurricular programs. Our registrants expand far beyond the US, with representatives from countries such as India, Singapore, Scotland and the Netherlands. At an individual level, participating students are:

· 7% high schoolers

· 48% underclassman

· 23% graduating seniors

· 23% graduate students

All of the competitors are studying highly relevant tech curriculums with

· 43% in computer science

· 26% in cyber security

· 23% in electrical and computer engineering

Sponsoring the Future With electrical engineering, computer science, and cybersecurity roles becoming increasingly critical in the face of global strategic competition, bolstering interest and opportunities for our future workforce is vital. This year’s program offers sponsors access to the participating students, giving the students early exposure to potential careers and giving top companies a rare look at talent in action. While the eCTF sponsorship program’s top tier quickly sold out, there are additional opportunities available for companies to get involved this semester here. Current sponsors include Fortinet, CrowdStrike, Analog Devices, Boston Cybernetics Institute, and Rambus.

Making a Difference

The eCTF competition is a great way to enhance workforce development in the field of embedded systems security as our reliance on microchips for daily use continues to grow. It’s also a great way to understand the value of this competition is to hear directly from past participants themselves. You can learn more from Ben Janis, a former participant who connected with MITRE through eCTF and is now a part of the team running the competition, as he shares his participant experience in this post.

This year the eCTF’s focus is on how to protect a key fob for car door lock. – if you’re wondering why microchips that aren’t connected to the internet still need security systems, learn all about that here.

1. Air Force Institute of Technology

2. AJ College of Science and Technology

3. Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham University

4. Baldwin Wallace University

5. BASIS Chandler

6. Carnegie Mellon University

7. Center I (Albemarle County Public Schools)

8. Clarendon High School

9. Clemson University

10. Delaware Area Career Center

11. Essex North Shore Agricultural and Technical School

12. Farmington High School

13. Florida Atlantic University

14. Florida International University

15. Georgia Institute of Technology

16. Hanze University of Applied Sciences

17. Harmony Science Academy

18. Huntsville City Schools Cyber Academy

19. Indian Institute of Technology Madras

20. Indiana Institute of Technology

21. Independent School District 196

22. Johns Hopkins University

23. Kilgore College

24. Lakota East High School

25. Louisiana State University

26. Marriotts Ridge High School

27. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

28. Michigan State University

29. Morgan State University

30. Mount Saint Dominic Academy

31. New Century Technology High School

32. New York University

33. Norfolk State University

34. North Carolina State University

35. Northern Virginia Community College

36. Nova Southeastern University

37. Parkway Spark!

38. Penn State Abington

39. Purdue University

40. River Hill High School

41. Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

42. Searcy High School

43. Singapore Management University

44. Springfield-Clark County CTC

45. SRM Institute of Science and Technology

46. Symbiosis Institute of Technology

47. Texas A&M University

48. Thadomal Shahani Engineering College

49. The Harker School

50. Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology

51. Tufts University

52. United States Military Academy

53. University at Buffalo

54. University of Alabama in Huntsville

55. University of Arizona

56. University of California Irvine

57. University of California Santa Cruz

58. University of Colorado, Colorado Springs

59. University of Connecticut

60. University of Dayton

61. University of Edinburgh

62. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

63. University of Maryland College Park

64. University of Massachusetts Amherst

65. University of New Hampshire

66. University of New Haven

67. University of North Dakota

68. University of Texas at Arlington

69. University of Texas at Dallas

70. University of Washington

71. University of Wyoming

72. US Air Force Academy

73. Virginia State University

74. Virginia Tech

75. Wellington High School

76. West Virginia University

77. Worcester Polytechnic Institute

78.  Xavier University 

79.  Zambia University College of Technology 


© 2023 MITRE Engenuity, LLC. Approved for Public Release. Document number ME0056

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