How often to CTFs happen? And how long are they?
Effectively there is a CTF every week. There are many teams who how them and some professionally made ones.
The majority of CTFs are 48 hours to allow for people around the globe to play. There are some as short as 8 hours and then there are ongoing ones which are hosted all year long. We all the ones that are always on `wargames`.
You don't have to participate for the full 48 hours. HOWEVER, if all you do is spend 30 minutes to an hour max, you might not be able to get much done. Some challenges take many many hours to solve. And the more time you put in, the more you learn and get ready.
Where are these CTFs located?
They are hosted on the internet. We meet up in person on campus to interact and communicate with each other so we can solve challenges faster. Some people chose to play remotely from their homes. If you do so, please communicate as you solve the challenges on the channel we'll create.so that others know you are working on the challenges and we can collaborate better so that we don't waste time doing the same thing independently.
Who hosts these competitions?
It varies. Many are hosted by fellow teams which includes university teams like b01lers and also more professional teams... Some are held as an event during a conference such as DEFCON or Chaos Communications Camp.
Also, some companies host CTFs for fun and for recruiting ;)
I don't know anything yet, how can I get started?
That's perfectly fine! If all you do is look at a challenge to try to learn something out of it, that's fantastic! It means you can get prepped for upcoming CTFs faster and maybe learn a thing or two.
Some harder CTFs need large amounts of people so it goes all hands on deck. Just by practicing and learning from things, you can help out in the future. Think of it as investing for the next competition.
Seriously, I don't know anything how can I help?
One thing that happens often is that while one of the more advanced challenges is being inspected with people analyzing the challenge to find the bugs, you can contribute by helping write wrapper programs to interact with the challenge! Just learn pwntools and help build a wrapper so that when we do find the bug, we can more quickly start developing our exploit. The only skill you need in that is programming. As a bonus, by interacting with a more experienced player, you can pick up a thing or two.
What happens during the meetings?
The Friday "meetings" are scheduled times to open the room up for the upcoming weekend CTF. Usually they start on Fridays so we just have the time there.
On weeks where we aren't competing, as well as the Monday meetings, are times for us to sit together and practice as well as exchange skills amongst each other. Come in with questions to ask, or new skills to show off.