When and where is it on?

Zero Days Capture-the-Flag is a national cyber-security competition aimed at students, university graduates and ICT professionals.
This year’s event takes place on April 5th, in Twenty Two Dublin.

How many years has it been going?

The challenge has been running as an annual event since 2015. This year’s event will be our fifth. In that time we have grown from 80 participants, to an anticipated 300 this year. This makes it by far Ireland’s largest cyber-security competition, but also the third biggest on-site cyber security challenge in the world.

What was the inspiration to start it?

Taking part in online CTF events was a hobby of ours for a few years. But there was only one event of it’s type in Ireland at the time, which was quite small and required fairly advanced skills. We wanted to create an event that was fun, encouraging to beginners and also provided real challenges for more advanced competitors. Our mission was to find new and young cyber talents and encourage young people to pursue a career in cyber-security, and to do that in a fun and safe way.

What exciting things can people look forward to?

Teams of up to four people will compete to solve 50 challenges across a range of technical domains such as

Pot Luck

There’s also a walk-about section which involves getting out of your chair for fun challenges such such as lock picking, treasure hunts etc. For an extra fun/humiliation element every event has a theme. Previous years have had themes such as Zombie Apocalypse, Father Ted, Superheroes/Supervillains. This year’s theme is ‘Horror’. This means we try to write the challenges around that theme, but also we encourage teams to come in costume, for bonus points and for spot prizes.

What opportunities are on offer for those attending?

There are thousands of euro worth of prizes for the top three college teams, top three industry teams. There are prizes for best costumes and also random spot prizes. The whole event is great fun and a great opportunity to network, and develop cyber security skills.

The event is also a great opportunity to network with our sponsor companies, all of whom are on the lookout for cyber talents and all of whom are hiring. This is also an opportunity to show off your skills for the Irish team for the European Cyber Security Challenge, which takes place in Bucharest in October (we are also steering group members of that, and manage the Irish team).

Who will be speaking?

It’s not a conference, so we’ve deliberately steered clear of having speakers. We do have a number of sponsors who will be represented on the day including edgescan, Integrity360, ReliaQuest, Ward Solutions and Amazon.

What tips would you give to people attending to get the most out of it?

Having a mixture of skillsets on your team to cover as many domains as possible will be a help. Above all though, relax and enjoy the experience. There will be challenges for all levels, so all teams will be kept busy. Don’t be afraid to mix with people and talk to the participants and the sponsoring companies. Join in and engage.

How can people book tickets / when does it usually sell out?

Tickets are only €60 per team of four, which includes competition entry, lunch and entry to the afterparty. Details on our website www.zerodays.ie

Tickets are expected to sell out by mid-March at the latest.

Anything else you’d like to add / we should have asked?

We have teams competing from third-level colleges from throughout the island of Ireland. We have previously (and likely again this year) have teams from the UK and EU. The primary competition is aimed at college students, with a separate scoreboard for industry/non-student teams.

If you would like to have your company featured in the Irish Tech News Business Showcase, get in contact with us at [email protected] or on Twitter: @SimonCocking

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