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CSAW'22 CTF Competition Eligibility & Rules
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Page : CTF Rules last update Sept. 13, 2022  

CSAW’22 Capture the Flag

  Competition Eligibility & Rules

Please review this entire document before registering.

Competition Overview 

CTF Qualification Round Dates

CTF Final Round Dates

Europe Eligibility

India Eligibility

Middle East North Africa (MENA) Eligibility

Mexico Eligibility

US-Canada Eligibility

General Recommendations

Rules & Other Important Information

Registration

Cheating

Contact

Issues with Email Verification & Password Reset on platform

CSAW CTF Overview

CSAW CTF is an entry-level, jeopardy style CTF, designed for university-level students who are interested in the field of security. Challenges are meant to exhibit fundamental concepts and help students develop their skills.

Challenge categories will include: binary exploitation, reverse engineering, cryptography, web security, forensics, industrial control systems, and miscellaneous.

CSAW CTF has been faithfully organized by students of the NYU OSIRIS Lab for 19 years.

CTF is one of ten competitions organized annually by the NYU Center for Cybersecurity in collaboration with our five global partners in Europe, India, Israel, MENA, and Mexico.

The competition occurs over two rounds:

  • Qualification Round in September (online)
  • Final Round in November (whether Finals will take place in-person or online varies by region)
  • Europe: online
  • India: online
  • MENA: in-person
  • Mexico: online
  • US-Canada: in-person

CSAW CTF Qualification Round

Dates

Time

Duration

Challenges

Location

Start

9 September 2022

16:00 UTC

48-hours

~30, 1 - 500 points

online

ctf.csaw.io

End

11 September 2022

16:00 UTC

CSAW CTF Final Round

Dates

Time

Duration

Challenges

Location

Start

10 November 2022

TBA

36-hours

~30, 1 - 500 points

Varies by region: online or in-person, but still hosted on

ctf.csaw.io

End

12 November 2022

TBA

Europe Eligibility for Finals

Global partner: Grenoble INP-Esisar (Valence, France)

All team members must be enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program within Armenia, the European Union, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, or the United Kingdom.

On the CTF platform, the brackets that correspond to an undergraduate or graduate program are Undergraduate, Stacked (a team with both undergraduates and graduate students), or Graduate.

The top 15 eligible European teams with the most points in the Qualification round will be invited to participate in CSAW CTF Finals.

CTF Finals for Europe will be online (remote participation).

Only one “school team” per university will be allowed to qualify for Finals. A “school team” is defined as a team with members who all attend the same university.

Mixed teams* -- teams with students from different universities -- are permitted.

A mixed team can have a maximum of 2 students from the same university, with up to 4 teammates total. For example:

  • 2 students from University A can team up with 2 students from University B.
  • Or, 2 students from University A can team up with 1 student from University B and 1 student from University C.
  • Or, a mixed team could comprise 4 students all from different universities
  • A maximum of 10 students from the same university and across multiple teams are eligible to qualify for Finals.

Educational level in Fall 2022 →

High school student

Undergraduate Student

Graduate Student

Not a Student

Eligible to play in Quals

yes

yes

yes

yes

Team Size for Quals**

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Eligible to qualify for Finals

no

yes

yes

no

Team size for Finals

Not applicable

1 - 4 players

1 - 4 players

Not applicable

Same School Required

Not applicable

Not required, mixed school affiliation is okay* 

Not required, mixed school affiliation is okay*

Not applicable

India Eligibility for Finals

Global partner: Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (Kanpur, India)

All team members must be students enrolled in an undergraduate (UG) or post-graduate (PG) program and attend the same university in India.

On the CTF platform, the brackets that correspond to an undergraduate or graduate program are Undergraduate, Stacked (a team with both undergraduates and graduate students), or Graduate.

The top 15 eligible Indian teams with the most points will be invited to participate in CSAW Finals.

CTF Finals for India will be online (remote participation).

Up to two (2) teams from any given university in India may qualify for Finals. If multiple teams from the same university qualify, only the two highest ranked teams will be invited to compete in CSAW India Finals.

Educational level in Fall 2022 →

High school Student

Undergraduate Student

Graduate student

Not a Student

Eligible to play in Quals

yes

yes

yes

yes

Team Size for Quals**

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Eligible to qualify for Finals

no

yes

yes

no

Team size for Finals

Not applicable

1 - 4 players

1 - 4 players

Not applicable

Same School Required

Not applicable

yes

yes

Not applicable

MENA Eligibility for Finals

Global partner: NYU Abu Dhabi (Abu Dhabi, UAE)

All team members must be enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program and attend the same university within the following countries: Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Chad, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.

On the CTF platform, the brackets that correspond to an undergraduate or graduate program are Undergraduate, Stacked (a team with both undergraduates and graduate students), or Graduate.

Up to 10 eligible MENA teams with the most points will be invited to participate in CSAW Finals.

CTF Finals for MENA will be in-person at the NYU Abu Dhabi campus.

Only one (1) team from any given university may qualify for Finals. If multiple teams from the same university qualify, only the highest ranked team will be invited to compete in CSAW MENA Finals.

Educational level in Fall 2022 →

High school student

Undergraduate student

Graduate Student

Non-Student

Eligible to play in Quals

yes

yes

yes

yes

Team Size for Quals**

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Eligible to qualify for Finals

no

yes

yes

no

Team size for Finals

Not applicable

1 - 4 players

1 - 4 players

Not applicable

Same School Required

Not applicable

yes

yes

Not applicable

Mexico Eligibility for Finals

Global partner: University Iberoamericana Mexico City (IBERO, Mexico City, Mexico)

All team members must be enrolled in an undergraduate/licenciatura or posgrados (Maestria o Doctorado) program.

On the CTF platform, the brackets that correspond to an undergraduate or graduate program are Undergraduate, Stacked (a team with both undergraduates and graduate students), or Graduate (posgrados).

Up to 15 eligible Mexican teams with the most points will be invited to CSAW Finals. Teams must earn at least 300 points during the final round to be considered for the award ceremony.

CTF Finals for Mexico will be online (remote participation).

Mixed teams* -- teams with students from different universities -- are permitted.

Up to two (2) “school teams” from any given university in Mexico may qualify for Finals. If multiple teams from the same university qualify, only the two highest ranked teams will be invited to compete at CSAW Mexico Finals. A “school team” is defined as a team with members who all attend the same university.

Educational level in Fall 2022 →

Bachillerato / High School

Licenciatura / Undergraduate

Maestría o Doctorado / Posgrados

Non-Student

Eligible to play in Quals

yes

yes

yes

yes

Team Size for Quals**

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Eligible to qualify for Finals

no

yes

yes

no

Team size for Finals

Not applicable

1 - 4 players

1 - 4 players

Not applicable

Same School Required*

Not applicable

Not required, mixed school affiliation is okay*

Not required, mixed school affiliation is okay*

Not applicable

US-Canada Eligibility for Finals

Global partner: NYU Tandon School of Engineering (Brooklyn, NY, USA)

All team members must be enrolled in an accredited undergraduate or graduate degree program at a university in the United States (including US Territories) or Canada.

The corresponding brackets on the CTF platform are Undergraduate, Stacked (a team with both undergraduates and graduate students), or Graduate.  

The top 15 eligible US-Canadian teams with the most points will be invited to participate in CSAW Finals, with the following caveat:

The top 8 teams will be invited to compete in-person at the NYU Tandon campus in Brooklyn, NY during Finals.

The next top 7 teams will be invited to compete online (ie, remote participation) during Finals.

Only one “school team” per university will be allowed to qualify for Finals. A “school team” is defined as a team with members who all attend the same university/college.

Mixed teams* -- teams with students from different universities/colleges -- are permitted.

A mixed team can have a maximum of 2 students from the same university/college, with up to 4 teammates total. For example:

  • 2 students from University A can team up with 2 students from University B.
  • Or, 2 students from University A can team up with 1 student from University B and 1 student from University C.
  • Or, a mixed team could comprise 4 students all from different universities/colleges
  • A maximum of 10 students from the same university and across multiple teams are eligible to qualify for Finals.

Educational level in Fall 2022 →

High school student

Undergraduate student

Graduate student

Non-student

Eligible to play in Quals

yes

yes

yes

yes

Team Size for Quals**

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Eligible to qualify for Finals

no

yes

yes

no

Team size for Finals

NA

1 - 4 players

1 - 4 players

NA

Same School Required

NA

Not required, mixed school affiliation is okay* 

Not required, mixed school affiliation is okay* 

NA

General Recommendations for the Qualification Round

Rules for the Qualifying Round & Other Important Information

To assist in clarifying the rules, this section is organized in a Frequently Asked Question format.  

Where do teams register?

Registration is embedded in the CTF platform: ctf.csaw.io. Registration will remain open through the Qualification Round.

Who can participate in the Qualification Round?

The Qualification Round is open to players from around the world. Everyone is welcome to participate. Teams that intend to qualify for Finals should pay close attention to the Eligibility rules for their global region as detailed in the above pages.

Can I participate in CTF Finals if the global region where I am studying is not represented at CSAW? For example, students in South Korea.

You are eligible and encouraged to participate in the Qualification Round, but you are not eligible to qualify for Finals. We are sorry! If there is interest and support at your institution in becoming a CSAW global region, please contact the CTF Global Leads at csawctf@osiris.cyber.nyu.edu

Can I compete under multiple team names and/or for multiple teams?

No.

All players, regardless of bracket or intention to qualify for Finals, must compete under only one (1) team name. Playing for multiple teams, including sub teams or alias teams, constitutes cheating and will result in team disqualification.

Furthermore, teams should work independently. Sharing answers privately or publicly, or collaborating with another team constitutes cheating.

How many players can form a team during the Qualifying Round?**

There is no limit to the number of players on a team during the Qualifying Round. However,  team members playing in the qualification round should be of the same education level or lower as the bracket of the team.

Additionally, teams should be aware that only 4 members of a qualifying team will be allowed to play during Finals. These 4 members must be listed on the team’s Profile page on the CTF platform prior to the end of the Qualification Round. Please make your best estimation of who would participate in Finals. Finalist team members will be confirmed during the enrollment verification process, whereby regional organizers ask students to submit enrollment documentation to confirm their student status.

Why do teams have to indicate who will be playing in Finals before the end of the Qualification Round? 

The process for verifying enrollment is multi-stepped and time sensitive and so having this data upfront saves time for organizers.

Teams who intend to qualify for Finals should make their best estimate about who will play in Finals. For teams of 4 or less, this is relatively simple: list everyone on your team. For larger teams, the decision as to which players advance to Finals may be more complicated and so we recommend that you give this your best estimate.

Can a group of undergraduate players form a team with high school students? 

It depends on the team’s bracket and region.

For example, a team that forms under the Undergraduate Bracket can play with students of a lower educational level (ie, high school students) during the Qualification Round. However, please be aware that for Finals, high school students will not be invited to compete.

A team that forms under the High School Bracket can play with students in high school plus students in a lower level of education. However, high school students are not eligible for CTF Finals.

Why can’t high school students qualify for finals?

There are a lot of exceptional high school teams/players as evidenced by the top performers in CSAW RED, PICO CTF and other competitions. CSAW CTF was designed for university students and so we are limiting eligibility at finals. That said, we encourage high school teams to join the Qualification Round. Playing in a variety of CTFs will help you excel and we look forward to seeing you at Finals when you are at university!

Can a group of undergraduate students form a team with graduate students? 

Yes! We refer to this team structure as “Stacked.” Be sure to select the Stacked bracket when registering.  

How are the brackets defined?

I am confused about eligibility. Who can I contact to answer my question regarding team eligibility?

Questions regarding eligibility can be directed to the CTF Global Leads at csawctf@osiris.cyber.nyu.edu. Please include the country/ies where you are participating in your email.

What constitutes cheating?

Is flag hoarding permitted?

No. Flags should be submitted as they are found rather than hoarding flags and submitting them all at once. Teams that submit flags in quick succession will be asked to provide write-ups.

How hard is CSAW CTF?

CSAW CTF is designed as a beginner-level university CTF. That said, it has a variety of problems -- some are easy and some are rather challenging. The goal is to create a competition that allows new students to learn while also providing more experienced students with an opportunity to hone their skills. This year’s CTF will feature a series of “warm-up” challenges designed specifically for students who are just getting started with CTFs.

How do teams qualify for Finals?

Teams earn points by solving challenges. Finals eligibility and the type of teams invited to participate in Finals varies by region as defined above, see “[Region] Eligibility” tables.

Teams must earn 2 or more challenges to be initially considered for Finals.

 be found on the regional webpages.

Qualifying round points are reported to CTFTime.

When will teams be notified of their finalist status?

Finalists will be notified of their status between 15 and 26 September 2022. Teams will receive notification directly from regional organizers via the team email that is registered on ctf.csaw.io.

Teams that qualify for Finals will be asked to verify their enrollment status before being offered an invitation to participate in Finals.

What is the format of Finals?  

The Final Round follows a similar format to the Qualification Round. The Final Round of CTF is played on an online CTFd platform: ctf.csaw.io. The scoreboard will be public through most of the competition, but will be taken offline nearing the end of the competition. The competition lasts 36 hours. We expect approximately 30 challenges, with points ranging from 1 - 500. As per the regional eligibility criteria stated above, some teams will be competing in-person at Finals, and others will be competing online (remotely). Times are listed below.

Region

Format

CTF Finals Start

CTF Finals End

India

IST

Online

22:30 Thursday 10 NOV

10:30 Saturday 12 NOV

MENA

GST

In-person

20:00 Thursday 10 NOV

8:00 Saturday 12 NOV

Europe

CET

Online

17:00 Thursday 10 NOV

5:00 Saturday 12 NOV

US-CAN

EST

In-person & Online

11:00 Thursday 10 NOV

23:00 Friday 11 NOV

Mexico

CST

Online

10:00 Thursday 10 NOV

22:00 Friday 11 NOV

Are there prizes?

A 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winning team is identified for each region based on total points scored during Finals. Final competition prizes vary by region  and have not been released yet and can  be found on the regional webpages. Typically, the prizes are cash prizes, or technology, or some combination. For top teams in the US-Canada and MENA, the prize will also include a travel award.

When can I post my CTF write-ups online?

We highly encourage people to post challenge write-ups online, so that the community can benefit. Because we may need to request write-ups from teams to protect the integrity of the competition, we ask that teams not immediately post write-ups at the conclusion of the competition, but wait for 96 hours or until the organizers announce that write-ups can be posted -- whichever is sooner.

How should I prepare for CSAW CTF?

The best way to prepare for CSAW CTF is to play CTFs. A calendar of competitions can be found here: CTFTime

How is my personal data used?

Personal data (ie, name, school, email) that is collected through the registration process is accessible only by the competition organizers and is used for the following purposes:

Aside from announcing finalist and winners’ names, CSAW will not rent, sell, or share personal data with anyone other than the competition organizers.

Contact

Please direct your inquiries to the CTF Global Leads as follows: csawctf@osiris.cyber.nyu.edu

Issues with Email Verification & Password Reset on platform

If you have issues receiving your verification email during team registration and/or you can’t get your password to reset, please email the CTF Global Leads at csawctf@osiris.cyber.nyu.edu.