Who Should Play the NCL CTF and Why?

The short answer to this is everyone! I should probably elaborate though because technically not everyone can play. You see, National Cyber League (NCL) came about in 2011 with the idea to provide a Capture the Flag (CTF) for students. I personally have found that by playing in a game that allows you to learn while applying the skills necessary not only feeds my competitive fire but also causes me to retain what I’m learning. I should note here that I have also been a gamer since the early ’80s and have always been competitive. With this community I can still remain competitive but have found that there is amazing support from others and no one so far minds explaining or giving a walk-through on something that I may not understand yet.

You will see me mention the support quite a bit. The support that I’m referring to can be found in the Cyber Skyline Slack, on the weekly live webcast series, and on the CryptoKait blog articles.

The NCL, powered by Cyber Skyline, provides this opportunity in the Spring and Fall every year. What’s so great about it? The other people that you will be competing against and with are also in the learning phase of their lives. While some students will have advanced skills, there are many who have never touched any portion of cyber security before as well. The reason it is important to know that is because whether you have mad skillz or you’re a complete n00b, you’ll fit in, you’ll still learn something at every level of experience, and you won’t feel like you stumbled into a crowded room with toilet paper hanging off of your shoes.

The CTF itself consists of a Gym where you can get a feel for how the platform works and solve some challenges that allow you to freely view hints in case you’re confused or stuck.

The next portion is the Preseason Game where you will try to capture as many flags for points that you are able to on your own in seven days. Don’t let this scare you, Preseason is there to determine where you place for the Individual Game so that you are put in the appropriate bracket: Gold, Silver, or Pewter, and are competing against other students with similar skill levels.

You will then have the rest of the week to either rest or brush up on the foggy areas until the Individual Game begins. The Individual Game lasts for two days and you cannot get help with the challenges from anyone, but you are free to use the resources that you’ve gathered during the Gym and Preseason.

The final portion of the CTF is the Team Game, which lasts for two days. You will either join a team or create one and are able to help and get help from your teammates.

Now for the who and why…

  • If you are a high school or college student and you have a desire to learn cyber security.
  • If you want to possibly earn credits for participating during the Spring or Fall.
  • If you want a Scouting Report that showcases your strengths and weaknesses and can be obtained by companies to get you hired into cyber security.
  • If you want to maybe or maybe not get cool prizes like coins and stickers.

Mostly though, if you want to join an amazingly supportive community while learning so that you know you are not alone and have fun while doing it. That’s who should play the NCL CTF and why. So sign up for Spring Season 2021 beginning February 1, 2021 until March 5, 2021 and keep your eyes on this calendar for key dates.

For another great point of view from my teammate, WebWitch, I present to you two articles for your viewing pleasure:

Why NCL is Great Even If You Aren’t in Cyber

And the awesome satirical view:

Top Ten Reasons Why You *Shouldn’t* Play in the NCL Games

See you in the Game, on the webcast, and forever stalking Slack ~ Hush1e

One thought on “Who Should Play the NCL CTF and Why?

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