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CTF: Capture The Flag

CTF: Capture the Flag is a type of information security competition that challenges competitors to solve a variety of tasks. It is a special type of cybersecurity competition designed to challenge computer participants to solve computer security problems or capture and defend computer systems. Typically, these competitions are team-based and attract a diverse range of participants including students, enthusiasts, and professionals. A CTF competition may take a few hours, a full day, or several days.

Why CTF?

Computer security represents a challenge for education due to its interdisciplinary nature. The topics of computer security range from theoretical aspects of computer technology to applied aspects of information technology management. This makes it difficult to encapsulate the feeling of constituting computer security professionals.

How to Get Started into CTF | Importance Of CTF in Bug Bounties

Types of Capture The Flag challenge


Jeopardy-style CTFs have a couple of tasks in a range of categories. For example, web, forensics, crypto, binary, or anything else. The team can gain some points for each solved task. More points usually for more complex tasks. The next task in the series can only be opened after some team resolves the previous task. Then the playing time is more than the sum of digits which shows you the CTF winner


Attack-defense is another interesting type of competition. Every team here has its own network (or only one host) with rude services. Your team has time to patch your services and usually develop adventures. So, then the organizers add the contest participants and the battle begins! You should protect your own services for defense points and hack opponents for attack points.


Possible formats for mixed competitions may vary. This can be something like a wargame with specific times for task-based elements.

Challenge Types & Tools


In the case of CTFs, the goal is usually to crack or clone cryptographic objects or algorithms to reach the flag.

  • Hash Extender — A utility tool for performing hash length extension attacks
  • PkCrack — A tool for Breaking PkZip-encryption
  • RSATool — Generate private key with knowledge of p and q
  • XORTool — A tool to analyze multi-byte xor cipher


In the context of CTFs steganography usually involves finding the hints or flags that have been hidden with steganography. Most commonly a media file will be given as a task with no further instructions, and the participants have to be able to uncover the message that has been encoded in the media.

  • Stegsolve — Apply various steganography techniques to images
  • Zsteg — PNG/BMP analysis
  • Exiftool — Read and write meta information in files
  • Pngtools — For various analysis related to PNGs


Web challenges in CTF competitions usually involve the use of HTTP (or similar protocols) and technologies involved in information transfer and display over the internet like PHP, CMS’s (e.g. Django), SQL, Javascript, and more.

  • Postman — Add on for chrome for debugging network requests
  • Raccoon — A high-performance offensive security tool for reconnaissance and vulnerability scanning
  • SQLMap — Automatic SQL injection and database takeover tooli
  • W3af — Web Application Attack and Audit Framework.


In a CTF context, “Forensics” challenges can include file format analysis, steganography, memory dump analysis, or network packet capture analysis

  • Barf — Binary Analysis and Reverse engineering Framework
  • Binary Ninja — Binary analysis framework
  • BinWalk — Analyze, reverse engineer, and extract firmware images.
  • Boomerang — Decompile x86 binaries to C
  • Frida — Dynamic Code Injection
  • GDB — The GNU project debugger
  • GEF — GDB plugin
  • IDA Pro — Most used Reversing software
  • Jadx — Decompile Android files


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Hope you will start playing CTFs after go through this write-up.

Special Thanks to My Tesla Friend Aaditya Purai for sharing different types of challenges.

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