The Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security (CERIAS)

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Information Assurance and Security (CERIAS)

Purdue’s b01lers Win Raymond James CTF 2023, Earn $10,000 Prize

Purdue’s b01lers Win Raymond James CTF 2023, Earn $10,000 Prize
Tue, October 31, 2023General

Purdue CS News, 10-18-2023

Purdue’s b01lers emerged as champions, winning $10,000 in the Raymond James CTF 2023, highlighting their cybersecurity prowess.

Purdue’s Capture the Flag (CTF) team, appropriately called b01lers, won the Raymond James CTF cybersecurity challenge on Oct 7, 2023. Going against a field of 14 Universities from the United States and Canada, the b01lers swiftly secured a lead and persistently pushed forward to clinch a victory, taking home the $10,000 first place prize.

The b01lers’ first place finish in 2023 improved over last year’s effort of third place behind Saint Leo University and University of Florida. The team members who made the trek and secured the win were: Siddharth Muralee, Mihir Patel, Nick Andry, Jack Roscoe, and Zhongtang Luo

Raymond James hosted its seventh Capture the Flag (CTF) cybersecurity challenge on October 7, welcoming teams of students from 14 universities. The annual event, aligned with Cybersecurity Awareness Month, is designed to educate and develop students’ skill sets.

Assistant Professor Antonio Bianchi, a security researcher who also serves as the team’s academic advisor and coach, summed up the roles played by the b01lers team, “Our team worked to complete multiple challenges simulating real-world scenarios companies may face.”

He added, “CTFs offer an unique opportunity to their players to learn both offensive and defensive techniques, using a challenging and hands-on approach.”

Bianchi discussed the career preparedness that CTFs offer his students. “These challenges are effective in fostering interest in cybersecurity in students with different backgrounds, skills, and interests, and they are pivotal in preparing individuals to navigate the complex and ever-evolving landscape of digital security”


CTF Competitions: Fostering Cybersecurity Expertise

CTF competitions simulate real-world scenarios, where participants must dissect, analyze, and defend against a wide array of security vulnerabilities and attack vectors. This hands-on experience ensures that participants develop a profound understanding of the intricate workings of cyber threats, cultivating their problem-solving abilities, creativity, and teamwork. 

Moreover, CTF competitions encourage ethical hacking, emphasizing responsible and legal ways to discover and rectify vulnerabilities. In doing so, they serve as a launching pad for budding cybersecurity experts, equipping them with the practical knowledge and skills essential for safeguarding our digital world.
Gabriel Samide, president of the b01lers and a junior studying cybersecurity in the Department of Computer and Information Technology, sums up what the club gives back to students, “We strive to create an environment where students can get hands-on experience to build their cybersecurity skill set and problem solving abilities.”

He added, “Our goal is to ensure they are ready to skillfully and adeptly tackle the cybersecurity threats of tomorrow.”

The role that CTF cybersecurity competitions play in educational opportunities cannot be understated. They are a dynamic and engaging means of fostering cybersecurity awareness, attracting and retaining students’ interest in the field. Through these competitions, participants learn to think like hackers, which in turn enables them to better protect computer systems and networks. 


Bridging Theory to Expertise

Siddarth Muralee, a b01ler team member and PhD student in the Department of Computer Science, shared how his experience helped him excel. “CTFs equipped me with foundational skills that became the bedrock of my PhD research. My experience in these competitions was instrumental in helping me secure my first job post-undergrad.” 

He added, “The real-world relevance one can attain in a CTF is undeniable–both industry and academia hold CTF skills in high regard.”

The b01lers use CTF competitions to apply theoretical knowledge in real-world situations, deepening their understanding and reinforcing classroom teachings. With the ever-present threat of cyberattacks, the hands-on training received in preparing for CTF competitions is an imperative component of a comprehensive cybersecurity education, empowering the next generation of cybersecurity professionals with the expertise required to protect our interconnected world from digital threats.


About b01lers at Purdue University
CTF is for anyone interested in system security, reverse engineering, cryptography, forensics, and wants to learn new practical skills in these areas.The b01lers meet once a week to learn about new techniques, to discover new practical skills by solving challenges, and to train for upcoming CTF games. Email for more information. 

About the Department of Computer Science at Purdue University
Founded in 1962, the Department of Computer Science was created to be an innovative base of knowledge in the emerging field of computing as the first degree-awarding program in the United States. The department continues to advance the computer science industry through research. US News & Reports ranks Purdue CS #20 and #18 overall in graduate and undergraduate programs respectively, 6th in cybersecurity, 8th in software engineering, 13th in programming languages and systems, 15th in data analytics, and 18th in theory. Graduates of the program are able to solve complex and challenging problems in many fields. Our consistent success in an ever-changing landscape is reflected in the record undergraduate enrollment, increased faculty hiring, innovative research projects, and the creation of new academic programs. The increasing centrality of computer science in academic disciplines and society, and new research activities - centered around data science, artificial intelligence, programming languages, theoretical computer science, machine learning, and cybersecurity - are the future focus of the department.

Writer: Emily Kinsell,
Sources: Antonio Bianchi,
Gabriel Samide,
Siddharth Muralee,

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