Information for Parents & Students

Students - Interested in Capture the Flag?

Do you like puzzles? Are you passionate about solving a mystery? Are you interested in pursuing a career in Cybersecurity?  Want to be a super hero in the hacking world? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then a Capture the Flag Ethical Hacking Cybersecurity competition is for you.

MAGIC’s competitions are for entry-level high school, college, and nontraditional college students interested in pursuing a career in Cybersecurity.   

So what skills do you need to get started in CTF’s?

1. Persistence. You cannot give up easily. There have been numerous times where one attack and you get the flag. Satisfaction guaranteed!

2. Google-fu. In the IT world, Google is your best friend. Chances are if you are thinking it, someone else has already encountered it, and come up with 10 different solutions for it. The real MAGIC is sifting through all the information to find your answer.

3. Willingness to learn. Information Technology changes every day. You, as a hacker must adapt as well. You should have a love of learning. Books, videos, manuals. Always strive to learn something new!

4. CLI (Command line interface). You need to be comfortable moving around the command line. There are dozens of tools that only run from the command line! Find the tool that works for you.

5. Python. Knowing a programming or scripting language is essential in the Security realm and becoming more and more requested in the IT field in general. You don’t need to be the Bill Gates of programming, but it helps to be able to read code. One of the easiest and most popular languages in Python! That’s all you need to get started in CTF’s. No really!

Everything else is learned through practice and hard work. In the hacker world there are a variety of tools, languages, OS’s, and programs out there that it can be overwhelming to figure out where to start. Check out some resources we put together for you to get started.

Essential Skills to becoming a Master Hacker

Endgame – How to get Started in CTF’s

Infosec Institute – Tools of the Trade and Resources to Prepare for a CTF

No Starch Press – Books on everything from Programming to Hacking to just for fun Projects.

Vulnerability Hub – A website with practice boxes of varying levels for you to test your might against!

Over The Wire – Mini Hacking based games.

Kali Linux Resources

Kali Linux is a forensic and security-focused distribution based on Debian’s Testing branch. Kali Linux is designed with penetration testing, data recovery and threat detection in mind. This is the environment of choice for cybersecurity.

Kali Linux Documentation

Kali Linux testing tools

Kali Linux Basics

Kali Linux Tutorials

Python resources

Python is an easy to learn programming language that is perfect for a beginner to any language. It’s ease of use makes it perfect for creating simple scripts and working your way up to full programs.

Python’s Official Website

Python for Beginners

Learn Python with Code Academy

Python Scripting for the Aspiring Hacker

Parents- Why promote CTF to your child?

According to national polls, 1.8 million cybersecurity jobs will go unfilled in the next 5 years. As the digital age expands, our lives become vulnerable to cyber attacks everyday. If your child has an interest in technology, he/she might be the next “white hat” out there.

Cybersecurity careers are one of the fastest growing occupations today.  By promoting these competitions, you are guiding your child to a responsible and exciting use of their computer talents. Cyber competitions encourage players to utilize real world methods and best practices to achieve their goals in a legal and responsible manner.

MAGIC’s Capture the Flag is one resource to help show your child that being a good guy in the hacking world is a satisfying achievement. Students just starting out need a reliable source for information on the subject of cybersecurity. MAGIC’s Capture the Flag competitions provide a safe, legal and real world environment for your child to experience ethical hacking up close and personal.

Don’t assume your child knows the difference between a “black hat” hacker and a “white hat” ethical hacker. A “black hat" is someone that hacks with the intent to steal information, while a white hat hacks with the intent to prevent information theft. MAGIC promotes the “white hat” approach and applies the principles of ethical hacking during our competitions. Your child will be challenged to work as a team to solve puzzles in an unstructured setting. This informal style of learning replicates situations they will face in the real world and leaves them eager to learn more!

So what is Ethical Hacking and how does it relate to cybersecurity? Ethical hacking is where a hacker known as a “white hat" tries to find vulnerabilities of systems and applications, or other security measures through various methods with the purpose of helping to secure those systems. You can look at it like a bank hiring someone to try and break into their safe so that they can find where their weaknesses are. Ethical hacking serves the purpose of putting security measures through a real world test but without the real world risk.

We have heard from several parents who ask, “My child’s interest in coding and hacking has me concerned. What can I do to keep them on the right path?” First, and foremost, support them. The world is growing by leaps and bounds in the technological sector. Your child’s interest will help to advance future technological discoveries.  So give them resources to help nurture and foster a good learning environment. Buy them books, take them to conventions, sign them up for summer programs. Anything to get them engaged in the field! Next, challenge them! Give them tasks to complete and reward them when they do so. Ask them to make a program to keep track of chores, or to make a game. Just like real space, cyberspace has no limit. Lastly, get involved yourself! Ask them to teach you some programming or sit down and have them explain what they are doing and try it yourself. Who knows, soon you might be doing capture the flags right beside them!

Additional resources for parents:

Here are some great articles for both parents and students interested in ethical hacking:

Getting Started in Ethical Hacking

Security through Education

Even if your child is still in High school, now is the time to start looking into college programs that will encourage and provide a solid experience in cybersecurity.

Carroll Community College Cyber program

UMBC Cyber Certificates

UMUC Cyber Programs

There are various government agencies that offer internships and scholarship programs for students with guaranteed jobs right after school. Apply! Apply! Apply!

National Security Agency – Resources for Students and Educators

Central Intelligency Agency – Student Opportunities

Defense Intelligence Agency – Students

Federal Bureau of Investigation – Students

Defense Information Systems Agency – Internships

Department of Defense – Student Opportunities