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Trying out cryptography (and capture the flag)

A friend of mine shared a beginner level “capture the flag” event that I’ve been trying out this week. It’s pretty fun and low stress, and aren’t secret codes something appropriate for Halloween week?

What’s a capture the flag event?

A sort of information security game (cryptography is just one example of a topic that may be featured). You can check out CTF WTF for a brief description but that didn’t make much sense to me until my friend explained it.

There are essentially tasks given, and the title/description of the task might give you a clue how to solve it. Once you’ve solved it, you’ll find a “flag” somewhere; for the Zeromutarts event, they come in the form flag{this_is_a_flag}, so if you solve a challenge, you might see a flag{oh_an_answer} as a flag.


I solved one of the challenges pretty easily (web stuff), but cryptography is something new and intriguing for me. Luckily Khan Academy (<3) has a course on cryptography, with bite-size videos so you can see what it’s about.

Here’s that link again: (runs until mid-November)

When I asked another friend if they’d ever done CTF, they recommended the Matasano problems, saying they’re pretty tough (even though they say they’re beginner level as well). So that could be a good follow-up to trying out the problems on this CTF.

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