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eCTF is Underway

the 2024 challenge has begun

On January 17th, the annual MITRE Engenuity Embedded Capture the Flag™ (eCTF) competition kicked off, starting a semester-long contest that allows the future cyber workforce to show their stuff: MITRE Engenuity charges them to not only develop secure embedded systems, but also test their work directly afterward through cyber-attacks. As well as being intriguing and enjoyable, the activity is increasingly relevant, since the embedded systems engaged with during the competition are found in more and more of the devices we all use every day.

A unique opportunity

The distinctive phases of MITRE Engenuity’s eCTF competition make it especially effective: an initial system development phase takes place and then teams attack others’ developed systems. Errors in development are revealed as they are exploited in the attacks. Gamification principles enable a unique learning environment where competitors play both defense and offense; this inspires creativity alongside the rapid development of strategic thinking and cyber expertise.

More than just an entertaining activity where they can gain new skills, students earn other short- and long-term benefits from eCTF. Many schools offer course credit for participation and participants often form relationships that improve career prospects. To further increase the value for students and because of MITRE Engenuity’s continued focus on workforce development, last year we introduced corporate sponsors to the competition. This created opportunities for students to engage with leading companies in embedded systems and cybersecurity and so we are offering sponsorship opportunities again in 2024. Click here for more information!

Ectf2024 timeline.

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.

Participating teams emanate from many universities, but also high schools, extracurricular programs, and career centers (see below). Furthermore, many participants originate from countries outside the US, such as India and Singapore. Unique to 2024, we have experienced tremendous interest from collegiate institutions in Africa, such as Nigeria, Morocco, Togo, Uganda, Rwanda, Senegal!

At an individual level, of the 773 participating students, 18% are high schoolers, 67% are underclassman, 12% are graduate students, and 3% are PhD candidates. All collegiate competitors are in highly relevant tech curriculums with 37.7% studying computer science, 24.4% studying cyber security, and 22.6% studying electrical and computer engineering.

A Key Investment from Massachusetts

In recognition of their commitment to workforce development, the Healey-Driscoll Administration announced that $1.5M (of a total $9.2M in CHIPS and Science Act grant funding) would go directly to four distinct programs and initiatives that “aim to expand engagement to students across the northeast region.” Of the allotted $1.5M, eCTF was the recipient of $750,000, a stunning endorsement of our dedication to building a strong cyber workforce for tomorrow.

Welcome Newbies – and Return Competitors 

This year, we are thrilled to welcome a total of 95 institutions to the eCTF2024 competition!  

  • Air Force Institute of Technology 
  • Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham University 
  • Andrada Polytechnic High School 
  • Baldwin Wallace University 
  • California State University, Los Angeles 
  • Carnegie Mellon University 
  • Center I (Albemarle County Public Schools) 
  • Chennai Institute Of Technology 
  • City College of San Francisco 
  • Colombe Academy of Technology 
  • Columbia University 
  • CyberAegis 
  • Dakota State University 
  • Delaware Area Career Center 
  • Duke University 
  • East Tennessee State University 
  • Ecole 2600 
  • Ecole Royale de l’Air 
  • Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Prescott 
  • Florida Atlantic University 
  • Florida International University 
  • Georgia Institute of Technology 
  • Government Polytechnic, Pendurthi 
  • Indian Institute of Technology Dharwad 
  • Indian Institute of Technology Indore 
  • Indian Institute of Technology Madras 
  • Indiana Institute of Technology 
  • Ipnet Institute of Technology 
  • ISD 196 
  • Ivy Tech Community College Valparaiso 
  • Kansas State University 
  • Kilgore College 
  • Lakota East High School 
  • Lakota West High School 
  • Lenoir Community College 
  • LJ College of Computer Applications 
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology 
  • Michigan State University 
  • Michigan Technological University 
  • Morgan State University 
  • Munster High School 
  • New Century Technology High School 
  • Norfolk State University 
  • North Carolina State University 
  • Northeastern University 
  • Northern Virginia Community College 
  • NorthWest Arkansas Community College 
  • Oklahoma Christian University 
  • Pace University 
  • Parkway Spark! 
  • Purdue University 
  • Saddleback College 
  • San Francisco State University 
  • Sathyabama University of Science and Technology 
  • Shawnee Mission Center for Academic Achievement 
  • Singapore Management University 
  • Springfield-Clark County Career Technology Center 
  • St. Lawrence University 
  • Strayer University 
  • Summit Technology Academy 
  • Symbiosis Institute of Technology 
  • Tennessee Tech University 
  • Texas A&M University 
  • The Citadel 
  • The Ohio State University 
  • The University of Alabama 
  • The University of Tulsa 
  • Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology 
  • Tufts University 
  • United States Air Force Academy 
  • United States Coast Guard Academy 
  • United States Cyber Games 
  • University at Buffalo 
  • University of Arizona 
  • University of California Los Angeles 
  • University of California, Irvine 
  • University of California, Santa Barbara 
  • University of California, Santa Cruz 
  • University of Colorado, Colorado Springs 
  • University of Connecticut 
  • University of Florida 
  • University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign 
  • University of Maryland, Baltimore County 
  • University of Nebraska Omaha 
  • University of New Haven 
  • University of North Dakota 
  • University of Port Harcourt 
  • University of Texas at Arlington 
  • University of Washington 
  • Utica University 
  • Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute 
  • Virginia Tech 
  • West Virginia University 
  • Worcester Polytechnic Institute 
  • Xavier University

Making A Difference

Our reliance on microchips continues to grow and all the chips are hackable hardware. This year the eCTF’s focus is on designing and implementing a supply chain security solution for microcontrollers on a medical device. If you’re curious why non-internet connected microchips still need security systems, read all about that here.

Last year, MITRE Engenuity carried out a survey evaluating workforce growth among semiconductor producers and the results revealed widespread problems in hiring senior-level engineers. The eCTF competition is a great way to enhance workforce development in cybersecurity for embedded systems.

Sponsoring the Future 

In the face of growing global strategic competition, electrical engineering, computer science, and cybersecurity roles continue to become increasingly important. Therefore, bolstering interest and opportunities for our future workforce is vital. This year’s program offers sponsors mechanisms to support the participating students, giving the students early exposure to potential careers and giving top companies a rare look at talent in action.  

We have nothing but thunderous applause and gratitude for our 2024 eCTF sponsors: 

  • Fortinet, Diamond level, returning sponsor 
  • CrowdStrike, Gold level, returning sponsor 
  • Boston Cybernetics Institute, Silver level, returning sponsor
  • Idaho Scientific, Supporter level, new sponsor 
  • Analog Devices, Hardware Donor, returning sponsor 

There are additional ways that companies can get involved here.

16 things you'll learn through ecft.

@2024 MITRE Engenuity, LLC. Approved for Public Release. Document number ME0124.