Athc0n 2012 CTF setups
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Athc0n 2012 CTF setups


This is a release of the backend code that was written to run Athc0n 2k12 CTF, which was basically a hacker vs. admin contest in a realistic scenario, with winners from both teams.

About Athc0n

AthCon is an annual, European two-day conference targeting particular areas of information security. It’s aim: to bring leading information security experts together. More details about the conference can be found @

About CTF

In computer security, Capture the Flag (CTF) refers to computer security competitions that allow participants to demonstrate their level of skills on practical IT security. As stated on wikipedia, there are two main styles of capture the flag competitions: attack/defense and jeopardy.

Attack/defense style usually requires each of the participant teams to prepare a predefined setup and defend it, while the teams attack each others setups. A jeopardy-style CTF, where points are predefined and teams race to capture them but do not attack each other, naturally sounded better suited, since no specific timeslot was allocated for the CTF in the conference schedule. The problem is that creating a real-world scenario for joepardy

What style then?

Well, for Athc0n 2k12 we wanted to create a unique, hybrid style of CTF, and decided to do so by allowing participants/teams to join either the attackers scenario (hackers party) or the defenders scenario (admins party) in a LAN we had already prepared for them, involving situations and findings that would yield or substract different point values from the participants/teams.

Participants in the Hackers party were required to bring their laptops and attempt gathering pre-planted "easter eggs" from hosts and services that comprised the scenario LAN. On the oposite side, Admins were equiped with all sorts of monitoring consoles and earned their points by reporting attackers correctly (with log justification) to the CTF committee, which would also substract points from the reported attacker's total score. Incomplete or otherwise bad attack reports from a participant Admin, would result in point subtraction from his total score.

What we came up with was a joepardy-style CTF, that also involved teams and parties and winner standings from each party. Having introduced the Admins party in the scenario, required for the attacks to be more realistic, since they had to pass undetected in a realistic up-to-date network with many monitoring services. Even though the game came out almost unannounced, it attracted more than 25 participant teams. Game moderation and scoring was supported by purpose-built solutions, requiring only 2 monitoring moderators.

You can read more on the game style and the CTF scenario at and more on the actual CTF setup at

Why release this?

The code was created for the sole purpose of hosting the 2012 CTF event, but is in escence a generic CTF game engine for our special jeopardy-style CTF gametype. We are releasing the engine behind the CTF because it can easily be used to re-accommodate a CTF contest, and because we would be happy to see this project evolve.

What is included

We have included all the code that was used for the CTF event, along with the gamedata generated during the event.


The webui directory contains the PHP site used during gameplay by the users to register, keep scores, submit results, etc

  • webui/*.php the frontend for the CTF participants, plus misc pages like the scoreboard.
  • webui/manager the CTF moderators frontend.

The contrib directory contains the db schema for the web-ui, where most of the game logic lies. Additionally, you will find all of the operating system configuration and scripts used to support the CTF: For example, in order to make the secluded CTF lan appear like it had normal internet traffic, we employed a syslog event spoofer that was used to generate realistic noise on Echofish, the powerfull admin console that was given to the admins team, allowing hackers to hide within legitimate event noise, therefore enhancing gameplay for both teams. You will also find all the gource 'glue' used with tcpdump to generate the cool traffic visualisations that were running during the game and other cool stuff used internally on the CTF setup.