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Westminster’s MAGIC draws 88 teams for Capture the Flag cybersecurity competition

The Nov. 9 event awarded top point-getters from Estonia and Maryland.

Inside Capture the Flag competition's host site in Westminster. (Courtesy photo)

A cybersecurity competition organized by Westminster’s MAGIC drew teams from 20 locations last weekend, including a few from countries beyond the U.S.

Held Nov. 9, the Capture the Flag (CTF) event was the largest edition of the biannual event to date. MAGIC, which is the nonprofit Mid-Atlantic Gigabit Collaboratory, has held eight events as part of its efforts to galvanize the tech community around the Carroll County city’s municipal fiber network.

CTF is an ethical hacking competition, offering a cyber version of the game that requires locating and maneuvering to find the flag. The flags are hidden within systems, and participants have to break into the systems to find them. Several puzzles were presented in a “Jeopardy!“-like format, enabling teams to select levels of difficulty. A harder puzzle meant more points were available.

The event drew 88 teams of students, with more than 300 participants overall. Teams came from Maryland, Tennessee, Idaho, New Hampshire, Estonia and Northern Ireland. The host location was Westminster’s Community Media Center, while teams also broadcast from the various other areas.

“We couldn’t be more pleased by the turnout. MAGIC’s CTF competition is now one of the largest early entry cybersecurity challenges in the world,” said Graham Dodge, who began as executive director of MAGIC in September. “If not the largest.”

The top two teams were from Estonia, with the winner, CyberSpike 19, hailing from Tallinn University of Technology. In second place was Viljandi Gymnasium and friends from VIKK Technical School.

Representing Maryland, a team of Montgomery Blair High School students from Baltimore County Public Library’s Owings Mills branch won third place. Each student from these teams won gift cards of $100, $50 and $25, respectively. A team from University of Maryland Global Campus that was competing from the Westminster site came in a close fourth.


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