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HSE Students Win International Competition in Computer Security

Team HSE has taken second place at RuCTF - a leading information security competition. The championship was held in Ekaterinburg on April 14-17, 2017. RuCTF (‘Capture the Flag’) is an annual open all-Russian interuniversity competition and conference on information security. The event has been held annually since 2008.

This competition is organized in two formats: Jeopardy CTF (solving a set of tasks) and Attack-Defence CTF (a team format, whereby groups of participants receive identical sets of servers with vulnerable services to which the jury sends private information). These are both considered ‘flags’. The goal of each team is to identify the vulnerabilities, fix them on the server, and use them to capture the flags of opponents.

A total of 22 teams from different Russian cities and five foreign teams took part in the event. The team ‘Shadow Servants’, representing HSE students Ivan Novikov, Victor Rudnev, Dmitry Ulyanin, Nikolay Tkachenko, Yana Kozlyuk, Ilya Pavlov, and Denis Solokov, took second place. This is the third time ‘Shadow Servants’ has taken part in RUCTF.

‘Experience plays an important role,’ says Nikolay Tkachenko, captain of the team ‘Shadow Servants’ and second-year student in the Software Engineering programme at the Faculty of Computer Science. He notes: ‘Knowing what to expect from the competition helped us to prepare for it a year advance. We assigned each other roles in advance and participated in several similar competitions in order to improve our teamwork skills. Second place means that we are on the right track. However, there is always room for improvement and we plan to participate in RUCTF next year.’

The team ‘LC↯BC’, which included HSE students from our Faculty of Computer Science Arseny Smalyuk and Ilya Lukyanov, and MEPhI and ITMO students Konstantin Baladurin, Alexander Menshikov, Grigory Sablin and Ivan Oleinikov, took sixth place.

 ‘For me, it was the first Attack-Defense CTF, in which I participated offline. Previously, I took part in the event remotely,’ says Ilya Lukyanov, second-year student in the Applied Mathematics and Informatics programme. He added: ‘We lacked teamwork in our performance, but it’s now clear what we should pay attention to when preparing for the next championship!’

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