The Kernel Sanders Capture the Flag (CTF) team, part of the UF Student InfoSec Team (UF-SIT), was 1 of 10 groups that recently qualified for a CTF competition at the New York University Tandon School of Engineering. This is the first time the UF team has qualified for the event in eight years.
The team placed 10th among the best universities in the United States in an online qualification round. The competition takes place during NYU’s Cyber Security Awareness Week (CSAW) and will be held in New York from November 6 to 8.
From NYU: “Capture the Flag (CTF) lets players of all levels and ages from around the world test their hacking and protection skills. After a grueling 48-hour preliminary competition, finalists compete on-site at one of the six global regions. The 2019 Qualification Round had more than 2000 teams register from 88 countries.”
During the 48 hours, the UF team solved 19 challenges. They worked to exploit various websites, cryptosystems and programs and used those exploits to access their software testing environments, also known as sandbox servers.
The Kernel Sanders team was founded during Fall 2006 by Jordan Wiens and John Sawyer, who were both working in UF Information Security at the time. Though all members of UF-SIT are part of the team, about 20 people helped throughout the competition and seven members (John Woodman, UF-SIT President Daniel Chalco, Joshua Haddad, Team Captain Owen Flannagan, Team Co-Captain Nozomi Watanabe, Blas Kojusner, and Cole McMullen) participated the entire event. Only four team members will be able to attend the CSAW competition.
“Qualifying for finals shows that anyone can do what they want if they put their mind to it,” Flannagan said. “We were far from qualifying last year, but we’ve improved significantly by putting in a lot of time and effort. We’re happy that we finally have the results to show our hard work. Everyone here gave their all, and other teams should start worrying pretty soon.”
Anyone can join UF-SIT. The group generally does around 50-60 competitions each year, varying in scale and duration and a majority are online. This year the group has participated in 45 competitions so far. The CSAW competition is unique in its on-site final round. UF-SIT funding comes from student government, and the group is always seeking sponsors for student travel to these types of competitions.