UCSB Hosts Largest Computer Hacking Competition Ever

UCSB Hosts Largest Computer Hacking Competition Ever
UCSB Hosts Largest Computer Hacking Competition Ever

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By Matt Kettmann
December 8, 2007

The world=E2=80=99s largest computer hacking competition ever went down at UCSB 
on Friday, December 7, with 35 teams from nine countries logging in from 
their home bases and trying to take down each other=E2=80=99s mock websites=2E 
Hosted by UCSB=E2=80=99s Department of Computer Science =E2=80=94 where the event=E2=80=99s 
founder and coordinator Giovanni Vigna runs one of the more respected 
computer security programs in the world =E2=80=94 it was the sixth time the 
International Capture the Flag (iCTF) battle had been waged in five 

"This is the biggest hacking competition ever," said Vigna. "You can bet 
on that."

By the time the dust settled on the all-day event, a team from Milan, 
Italy called the Chocolate Makers emerged victorious, but only after 
facing tough competition from Russians, Germans, Americans, Argentines, 
Austrians, Australians, Indians, and the French. (See the winner 
announcement here and final scores here.)

The online war works as follows: Vigna and his upper level graduated 
students create a mock website with a half dozen section pages. In the 
morning, every team is given the same website, and must begin analyzing 
the structure immediately. Within minutes, they are blocking the 
websites security holes while other team members =E2=80=94 typically teams have 
around 20 students on them =E2=80=94 begin attacking the other websites=E2=80=99 section 
pages. The scoring system, which is technically a secret for fear of 
being hacked, allocates points for both successful attacks (where a flag 
is captured) and defenses.

This year, it also gave points for answering questions about computer 
security, which ranged from programming techniques to humorous trivia. 
That trivia system was actually hacked this year, apparently 
accidentally, by the team WCSC from the University of South Florida in 
Tampa, scoring them 35,000 points in one swoop. That gave them a huge 
bump in the battle's last hour, putting them briefly in first place. But 
they ended up finishing fifth overall.


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