"Capture The Flag" (CTF) competitions, in the cybersecurity sense, are not related to playing outdoor running or traditional computer games. Instead, they consist of a set of computer security puzzles, or challenges, involving reverse-engineering, memory corruption, cryptography, web technologies, and more. When players solve them they get a "flag," a secret string which can be exchanged for points. The more points a team earns, the higher up it moves in rank.
In the past, Google ran the competition in two stages: an online 48 hour long first-stage competition and an additional speed-running stage for the best 16 teams. The first stage competition had $31,337 USD in prizes. The best three teams of the first-stage won $13,337 USD for the first place, $7,331 USD for the second place, and USD $3,133.7 USD for the third place. In addition to the grand prizes, some of the best and most creative write-ups that we received during the qualifying round were rewarded as well. The second stage consisted of a series of problems that participants have to solve in a limited amount of time. The additional prizes for the top four teams of the speedrunning stage were 3,000, 2,000, 1,000, and 500 USD.
At Google, we believe that CTFs are not just a good way for security pros to get better at what they do, but also a fun way to get into the cybersecurity field. That’s why along with the main Google CTF competition there will also be some beginner tasks for folks who want to get started. In addition, the speed-running competition will be recorded, narrated, and presented online.