Capture the Flag (CTF) has served as the beacon for cyber hacking competition for budding hackers and future cybersecurity specialists. These platforms provide ample opportunities to tap into the security world and get paid for finding bugs and hacking. The primary purpose of these challenges, however, is not just to win a prize but to hone skills in the cybersecurity sector.
Many institutions and organizations hold these competitions, which are unquestionably a fete for students because they help develop cyber security skills and test knowledge against a global standard for solving problems. For example, the UK-based cybersecurity platform ‘Hack The Box’ offers a cybersecurity training platform to users from over 190 countries.
10 best CTF platforms in 2022
Hack The Box
Hack The Box is a popular training ground for aspiring cybersecurity experts. It makes it possible for people, institutions of higher learning, and businesses to engage in cybersecurity training using CTF models. It helps individuals nurture penetration testing skills with challenges. It uses virtual machines to stimulate real-life security problems, and participants can sign up for fresh challenges to test their skills in different technologies.
Best suited for beginners, this CTF platform is among the top reputed companies to learn cybersecurity in real-time. TryHackMe is ideally suited for individuals just starting their cybersecurity career, and it offers byte-sized games to explain complex concepts. This bootstrapped company provides various learning modules more in the vein of edutainment.
RingZer0ctf is another CTF platform that offers many challenges, specially designed to test ones hacking skills. The company provides a wide range of challenges, including niches like Cryptography, Exotic Data Storage, Malware Analysis, and more. It uses a flag system for credits, which can be acquired by completing different challenges on the platform. Additionally, the organization awards exceptional candidates with the RingZer0 Certified Elite Hacker (RCEH) accreditation.
picoCTF is a free program for young cybersecurity specialists who want to gain hands-on experience on real-life problems. It uses original CTF content, specially curated by security experts at Carnegie Mellon University. The challenges concepts are the same as other companies where users have to capture flags and reverse engineer target devices and networks. Additionally, picoCTF offers learning labs where users may brush up on fundamental cybersecurity principles and hone their abilities in a non-competitive learning environment.
Developed for the Whitehat hacker community, Bugcrowd University doesn’t miss when it comes to CTF competitions and online training. The firm provides numerous programs and challenges through open-source instructional content that cybersecurity experts have carefully chosen. It regularly runs CTF events on its website and offers rewards to select winners. Additionally, the site has a wide range of educational content that can assist beginners to start their cybersecurity journey.
Known for its popular wargames, OverTheWire allows individuals to practice cybersecurity concepts through fun and thrilling games. The company offers tutorials for both experienced hackers and total newbies with a selection of simple to complex games. It uses a bandit system where users can finish different hacking simulations and move up in the ranks. To be able to participate in OverTheWire games, users need to have basic SSH knowledge — a network communication protocol that enables communication between two computers.
UnderTheWire is another awesome website that offers PowerShell-based wargames designed explicitly for the cybersecurity community. Similar to OverTheWire, UnderTheWire employs wargames to sharpen PowerShell skills with rare instances and practical problem-solving techniques. The platform has five sets of levels for increasing difficulty, which can be adjusted to suit the level of users and the level they are playing at.
Offering multiple challenges in a practical setting, VulnHub specializes in CTF competition, digital learning, and network administration. It provides vulnerable applications/machines to participants who want to gain real-life experience in debugging. The CTF platform is a great initiative for pen testing tools, especially on virtual machines, available in abundance on the platform. It prompts users to gain root access to the target devices and read the flag file, which, in most cases, are the main objects of the challenges.
Joined by over 0.5 million users and companies, this CTF platform is known for being easily accessible for beginners and pro hackers. Root-me offers 472 cybersecurity challenges that put your abilities to use in various settings and real-time problem-solving to the test. As for now, the company has 151 virtual environments that can be accessed by users and companies who want to learn and organize CTF events.
Root-Me PRO is a more advanced version of Root-me and is entirely dedicated to ethical hacking. The website has three main levels of CTF — Jeopardy CTF, Attack – Defense CTF, and Custom Cybersecurity Event. By signing up for challenges, users get SSH access to remote systems where they can participate in exploits and earn bounties. Additionally, the website has options to onboard cybersecurity training for companies, schools, colleges, and universities.
These are our picks for the best CTF platforms online. Let us know what do feel about them. Also, let us know what are your favorite CTF tools.