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AMHS Wins Porter-Gaud Capture the Flag Cybersecurity Competition

Capture the Flag Cybersecurity win


For the past five years, the student-led Porter-Gaud annual Cybersecurity/Capture the Flag (PGCTF) competition has attracted students from across the Lowcountry and the state. This year, in the face of a global pandemic, Porter-Gaud students saw an opportunity. They took the competition online and expanded it - inviting students and teachers (first-time beginners to experienced veterans) from across the state, the country, and the world. The PGCTF is the only student-led tournament in the state.

Student organizers Pleasant Ballenger '21 and Michael Shipman '21 say the goal of the week-long event is to provide more students with a legal (and fun) way to obtain hands-on experience and learn more about cybersecurity. Together, the PG student team has built more than 16 cybersecurity practice challenges and 80 challenges for the competition.

The tournament is a series of Capture the Flag "games" where teams or individuals are tasked with solving various security and computer science challenges. Challenges range from intentionally vulnerable websites that must be exploited to cryptography, trivia, algorithm/programming, and forensics challenges.

“This tournament is all about creative problem-solving in real-world cybersecurity scenarios - that’s what makes it so fun. I enjoy watching how people react to and solve our problems, and how we can help people figure the challenges out,” says PGCTF event organizer, Michael Shipman ‘21.

277 teams made up of 389 students and teachers competed in the tournament that opened on Feb. 26. 

“Cybersecurity is in the news every day. We wanted this tournament to expand our reach to beginners - both students and teachers - and expose more people to the exciting field of cybersecurity,” says Porter-Gaud Computer Science faculty member Adam Michelin.