150 students participate in finals of 9th edition of Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham’s national ethical hacking contest


Kochi : More than 150 computer science students from all over India participated in the finals of the 9th edition of the national hacking competition called the “Amrita India Capture the Flag Contest” (Amrita InCTF) organized by Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, which is ranked India’s eight best university among all private and public universities in the 2018 NIRF rankings.

Team Invaders from the Rajiv Gandhi University of Knowledge Technologies (Andhra Pradesh) grabbed the first position in the finals, with Team CTF_Probably from the KJ Somaiya College of Engineering (Mumbai) and Team Init0 from NIT (Rourkela) placed at second and third positions, respectively.

Over 2,500 students had registered for the annual talent-spotting contest from more than 1,000 colleges across the country, with 150 of them making it to the finals. Participating students had to tackle challenges in different areas of cybersecurity such as cryptography, web security, mobile security, cyber forensics, binary exploitation and reverse engineering. The final contest, called the “attack-defense contest,” involved participants having to defend their applications and attack others. Points were given on how long the participants are able to defend their own services, and how effectively they are able to attack applications of competing teams. Senior officials from NTRO (National Technical Research Organisation) were some of the dignitaries present at the event.

Said Vipin Pavithran, Founder of Amrita InCTF and Professor at Amrita Centre for Cybersecurity Systems & Networks, Amrita Vishwa Vidypaeetham, Kerala: “India needs a huge talent pool of young experts in cybersecurity, considering the rising incidence of cybertheft, cybercrime and cyberespionage worldwide. Amrita InCTF is India’s premier cybersecurity talent-hunt competition organized by Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham which exposes college students to computer security, secure coding practices and the implications of not adhering to them. More than 12,000 students from 19 states have participated in the event since its inception in 2010.”

He added: “There are lakhs of unfulfilled cybersecurity jobs today. Cybersecurity has not been included as a discipline in the curriculum of schools or undergraduate studies in India yet. This has made cybersecurity related careers inaccessible to students. There will be a demand for 3.5 million cybersecurity professionals worldwide by the year 2021. It is therefore very important for Indian students to learn about the challenges and opportunities that cybersecurity offers. The skills and interest that the students gain during the Amrita India Capture the Flag Contest can help students get good jobs in cybersecurity. Companies that sponsor this contest identify potential candidates for hiring. In fact, US-based computer software firm VMWare hired two students on the spot from amongst the finalists of the 2019 contest. In previous years, participants have also been recruited by the security divisions of firms like Google, FireEye, Flipkart, Amazon, Symantec and DRDO. The global technology industry holds Amrita InCTF in high esteem.”

Said student Gurucharan Sivaraman from the participating team of NIT Rourkela which grabbed the third position at the competition: “We used to think that cybersecurity involves nothing but ethics about the use of computers. But then we got introduced to Amrita InCTF and realized what cybersecurity and hacking are all about. Thanks to this contest, we are now aware of and became interested in ethical hacking practices and got introduced to the Attack and Defense style.”

The Amrita InCTF contest is coordinated and managed by India’s premier cybersecurity team from Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, called ‘bi0s.’ It consists of four rounds. The students register for free in the registration portal inctf.in. This is followed by a learning round lasting two months, further followed by an online round, onsite training, and the final onsite contest.