On 00:00:01 UTC of June 17th and 18th, 2017 we’ll be hosting the online qualification round of our second annual Capture The Flag (CTF) competition. In a ‘Capture the Flag’ competition we create security challenges and puzzles in which contestants can earn points for solving them. We will be inviting the top 10 finalist teams to a secret undisclosed location (spoiler alert: it’s Google) to compete onsite for a prize pool of over USD$31,337 and we’ll help subsidize travel to the venue for the finals to four participants for each of the ten finalist teams. In addition to grand prizes given at the finals, we’ll be rewarding some of the best and creative write-ups that we receive during the qualifying round. We want to give you an opportunity to share with the world the clever way you solve challenges.
Why do we host these competitions?
There are three main reasons why we host these competitions.
First, as we’ve seen with our Vulnerability Reward Program, the security community’s efforts help us better protect Google users, and the web as a whole. We’d like to give the people who solve a single challenge or two in a very clever way a chance to teach us and the security community, even if they don’t qualify for the finals. We also think that these challenges allows us to share with the world the types of problems our security team works on every day.
Second, we want to engage the broader security community and reach out to as many people involved as possible. At the Google CTF last year the winning team, ‘Pasten’ from Israel, earned over 4,700 points competing against 2,400 teams out of which 900 were able to solve at least one of our challenges. Thanks to the community’s feedback, we used what we learned last year to make our CTF even better this time.
Lastly, we also want to grow the security community. Upon observing how last year’s competition engaged new players from all over the world, we want to continue to create a safe space for people to come and learn while trying to solve challenges and having fun. Our internal security team employs several people who actively compete in CTF competitions in their spare time, so we value this activity and want to give back to and help grow our community.
We hope to virtually see you at the 2nd annual Google CTF on June 17th at 00:00:01 UTC. Check this site (g.co/ctf) for more details, as they become available.
The Big Picture
At Google, we aim to reward the hard work of hackers and security researchers. One such avenue is our Google Vulnerability Rewards Programs. Many of the best bug hunters enjoy participating in ‘Capture The Flag’ contests, and great vulnerabilities have been discovered and disclosed at them. During last year’s Google CTF we also received some security bug reports in our scoreboard, for which we gave out rewards under the VRP. Another way we reward this community is with our Vulnerability Research Grants Program and our Patch Rewards Program. We look forward to the best contestants taking some time to explore our other programs for opportunities to make some money and help improve the security of the internet.