Can CMU pull off first ever three-peat at this year’s ‘World Series of Hacking’?


August 4, 2015

This week, Carnegie Mellon’s cybersecurity team, The Plaid Parliament of Pwning, will compete for its third title in three years at this year’s DefCon Capture the Flag competition. The competition, widely considered the “World Series of Hacking,” will be held August 6 – 9 at the Paris and Bally’s Hotels in Las Vegas.

 “What happens during this contest reflects what’s being played out today between consumers and companies, as well as between nations,” says David Brumley, director of Carnegie Mellon’s cybersecurity institute CyLab and the team’s faculty advisor. During the contest, 15 pre-qualified hacking teams from around the world attempt to find vulnerabilities in a set of software, and use that knowledge to hack other teams’ networks while protecting their own. Teams capture virtual “flags” and accumulate points.

“The goal is to survive against the best hackers in the world,” Brumley says. “Winning requires skill, knowledge, and strategy.”

The Carnegie Mellon hacking team formed in 2009 and began competing in DefCon’s Capture the Flag competition in 2010. The team took top honors in 2013 and 2014, and they are hopeful for a win this year.

“This would be the first time a team has won three consecutive DefCon Capture the Flag competitions in a row,” said five-year veteran team member Tyler Nighswander. “The win would secure us a nice spot in DefCon history.”

The winning team will be crowned at the contest’s finish on Sunday, August 9.

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David Brumley