Kehillah took two teams to the PACTF annual online computer security competition for middle and high school students this past April. It is run in a ‘Capture the Flag’ (CTF) format, where participants must hack, decrypt, reverse, or solve increasingly challenging security puzzles in order to uncover a secret message. Kehillah team ProgRAMmers and team Luddites placed 52nd and 56th, respectively, out of nearly 500 eligible teams and 1500 students who took part worldwide. Among the competition’s sponsors are Amazon, J.P. Morgan, and many other high-tech organizations. Both teams won prizes from Amazon Web Services.
The event included two rounds. Each round lasted for 48 hours, in which the teams tried to solve as many problems as they could. Questions required students to decode cipher text, decrypt hashed data, modify assembler code, and edit file binaries. Notable examples of problems include cracking RSA public key encryption by factoring large (70 digit) prime numbers, using SQL injection to exploit vulnerabilities in websites and extract secret messages from image and video data.
Kehillah’s teams were organized by the AP Computer Science teacher, Dr. Zachi Baharav. Eight students participated in the competition, representing the freshman, sophomore, and junior classes. On team Luddites were Ben Darnell, Avi Kaplan-Lipkin, Paul Treitel, and Jake Darnell. On team ProgRAMmers (pun intended) were Shahar Sandhaus, Avi Ben-Tov, Adam Cohan, and Sawyer Anderson. The collaboration was allowed and encouraged between team members to help solve the more difficult problems.
The programming students who participated are looking forward to sharing their experience with their peers and competing again next year.
Well done to the students who took part!