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Over a Thousand of Global Top Capture the Flag Experts Compete in “Hong Kong Cyber Security New Generation Capture the Flag Challenge 2023”

Cultivating an International-calibre Local Cyber Security Force

HONG KONG, Dec. 19, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — “HKPC Cyber Security” in collaboration with the Hong Kong Computer Emergency Response Team Coordination Centre (HKCERT), successfully held the fourth “Hong Kong Cyber Security New Generation Capture the Flag Challenge” (CTF Challenge 2023) today. The CTF Challenge 2023 aimed to cultivate the knowledge of the younger generation in the field of cyber security and trigger their interests, while nurturing the development of global cyber security talent. As one of the world’s most popular cyber security competitions, this year, the CTF Challenge 2023 introduced an overseas category, with participation from close to 1,100 local secondary and tertiary students, IT elites, and international players, forming more than 500 teams. The CTF Challenge 2023 achieved a remarkable milestone, securing the 21st position out of 189 global competitions on the esteemed CTFTime scoring platform. Furthermore, it received prestigious acclaim from SECCON CTF 2023, a flagship CTF competition in Japan. The winning team of the CTF Challenge will receive a special privilege of bypassing the qualifying round and participate directly in the international finals taking place in Tokyo during Christmas. They will compete against 11 international teams, including the Mainland, Asia, Europe and America, vying for the championship of this international event. It is worth noting that a significant number of these teams are ranked among the top fifty globally.

Award presenters, representatives of the organisers, co-organisers and winners of the CTF Challenge 2023 pose for a group photo.
Award presenters, representatives of the organisers, co-organisers and winners of the CTF Challenge 2023 pose for a group photo.

The Largest CTF in Asia Pacific Expanding Scope to Include Overseas Category First Time
Elevating to an International-level Challenge 
As one of Hong Kong’s largest CTF competitions, this year’s CTF Challenge saw participation from over a thousand individuals for the second consecutive year, rivalling similar flag-capturing challenges in neighbouring regions. It has also begun to make its mark on the international stage, with the newly introduced overseas category attracting 126 teams from the Mainland, Asia, Europe and America. The CTF Challenge 2023 adopts a problem-solving approach, requiring participating teams to creatively tackle various issues within a limited timeframe, learning valuable knowledge and skills in cyber security such as cryptography, programming concepts, and network forensics from competing against opponents worldwide.

After an intense competition, three local teams and one team from Italy emerged victorious in the secondary school, tertiary, open, and overseas categories, respectively, showcasing their exceptional skills. The top three teams in the newly introduced overseas category were ranked among the top 40 teams globally. These teams are well-known contenders in international CTF competitions and have achieved remarkable results in various major international events, demonstrating their wealth of experience. Furthermore, the overall performance of the local teams surpassed that of the overseas teams, with six out of the top ten spots on the leader board occupied by local teams. Their level of expertise can be considered on par with international standards. Notably, Kowloon True Light School received the Active Participation Award for the second consecutive year. Alongside another all-girls’ school, they sent a total of 36 students to participate in the competition, highlighting that female students are equally proficient in technical research and can showcase outstanding talent in male-dominated industries. (See CTF Challenge 2023 website for the full list) 

The CTF Challenge 2023 was concluded with the awards presentation ceremony at HKPC today, with Mr Alex CHAN, General Manager, Digital Transformation Division of HKPC and spokesperson of HKCERT, joined by Mr Daniel CHEUNG, Assistant Government Chief Information Officer (Cyber Security and Digital Identity), Office of the Government Chief Information Officer, and Mr Wilson YUEN, Curriculum Development Officer (IT in Education) of Education Bureau of the HKSAR Government, to present the awards.

Mr Daniel CHEUNG, Assistant Government Chief Information Officer (Cyber Security and Digital Identity Division), Office of the Government Chief Information Officer of the HKSAR Government, pointed out that “The Government endeavours to promote the development of the information security industry and nurture local talents.  We also actively collaborate with various partners in organising a wide range of activities, including competitions, technical seminars and professional training, to raise public awareness of cybersecurity.  While encouraging enterprises, organisations, and IT professionals to obtain relevant information security certifications and professional qualifications, we also actively encourage local tertiary institutions to offer more courses on information security, thereby cultivating more talents aspiring to join the industry.”

Mr Alex CHAN, General Manager, Digital Transformation Division of HKPC and Spokesman of HKCERT, said “Cyber security risks are ever-present. HKPC is always concerned about the cyber security of enterprises and the public and has been actively organising various activities, such as the Cyber Security Summit, Smart & Secure City Hall, and cyber security certificate course. Meanwhile, HKCERT continuously monitors and conducts research on cyber security threats and provides practical security advice. Apart from protecting the public, HKCERT fully supports talent development by organising the CTF for the fourth consecutive year to train participants from all over the world to prevent cyber security incidents from an attacker’s perspective. I would like to cheer on the winning team who will be traveling to Japan and hope that they can achieve further success. It is gratifying to see that this year’s competition received positive comments from the participants. The future weight at CTFTime has risen for the third consecutive year, laying the groundwork for next year’s competition rankings and international reputation to grow. This will provide strong momentum for future CTF Challenges.”

Enhancing Security Awareness through Diverse Internationally Recognised Training, Seminars, and Thematic Exhibitions
To nurture cyber security professionals, HKPC also organises related professional training courses, such as (ISC)² Certified Information System Security Professional (CISSP), EC-Council Ethical Hacker certification (C|EH) and other internationally recognised certificate courses to enhance students’ cyber security knowledge; and provides technical cyber security training to strengthen the students’ practical operating experience so that they can be more comprehensive in responding to and defending against new cyber threats. In addition, HKPC and HKCERT provide job and internship opportunities for those interested in joining the cyber security industry to showcase their strengths and gain experience.

On the same day, a webinar was also held in which cyber security experts shared their insights on penetration testing, ransomware prevention and cyber security solutions, as well as discussing how ethical hacking can help enterprises to enhance their cyber defence capabilities. To revisit today’s event and learn more about the competition, please visit the website.

On the other hand, Hong Kong is moving towards a smart city, where cyber security is a vital component. The “Smart & Secure City Hall” at the HKPC Building, is not just a showcase of the latest developments and trends in cyber security, but an interactive experience that will leave you on the edge of your seat and heighten your awareness on cyber security threats.

For enquiry regarding the thematic hall of “HKPC Cyber Security”, please visit the link for more details.

About Hong Kong Computer Emergency Response Team Coordination Centre
Hong Kong Computer Emergency Response Team Coordination Centre (HKCERT) is the centre for coordination of computer security incident response for local enterprises and Internet Users. Its mission is to facilitate information disseminating, provide advice on preventive measures against security threats and to promote information security awareness.

HKCERT collaborates with local bodies to collect and disseminate information, and coordinate response actions. HKCERT is also a member of the Forum of Incident Response and Security Teams (FIRST) and the Asia Pacific Computer Emergency Response Team (APCERT). We exchange information with other CERTs and act as a point of contact on cross-border security incidents.

For more information, please visit HKCERT’s website: www.hkcert.org

About HKPC Cyber Security
Cyber security is one of the eight major development focuses of the Hong Kong Productivity Council (HKPC). With the rapid development of information and communication technology, enterprises and individuals need to take a proactive approach to cope with various threats related to information technology security and cyber attack. HKPC Cyber Security pledges to offer enterprises comprehensive cyber security testing and advisory services, covering “Security-by-design; Compliance-by-default; and Privacy-by-default”, “Design & Architecture”, and “Offensive Security”, etc. In addition, HKPC Cyber Security also offers training and development programmes related to cyber security to help enterprises establish a cyber security culture. The programmes cover a broad spectrum of topics, from basic cyber security concepts to advanced cyber security technologies and tools. Through raising public awareness of cyber security, HKPC Cyber Security aims to safeguard enterprises against cyber and hacking attacks while cultivating cyber security specialists, thereby enhancing the overall cyber security locally, while promoting the sustainable development of the digital economy in Hong Kong.

For more information, please visit HKPC Cyber Security’s webpage: https://u.hkpc.org/HKPC-CyberSecurity.

About Hong Kong Productivity Council
The Hong Kong Productivity Council (HKPC) is a multi-disciplinary organisation established by statute in 1967, to promote productivity excellence through relentless drive of world-class advanced technologies and innovative service offerings to support Hong Kong enterprises. Being a key enabler of Industry 4.0 and Enterprise 4.0, HKPC strives to facilitate “new industrialisation” in Hong Kong, as well as bolstering Hong Kong to be an international innovation and technology hub and a smart city.

The Council offers comprehensive innovative solutions for Hong Kong industries and enterprises, enabling them to achieve resources and productivity utilisation, effectiveness and cost reduction, and enhance competitiveness in both local and overseas marketplace. The Council partners and collaborates with local industries and enterprises and world-class R&D institutes to develop applied technology solutions for value creation. It also benefits a variety of sectors through product innovation, technology transfer, and commercialisation, bringing enormous business opportunities ahead. HKPC’s world-class R&D achievements have been widely recognised over the years, winning an array of local and overseas accolades. 

In addition, HKPC offers SMEs and startups immediate and timely assistance in coping with the ever-changing business environment, and strengthens talent nurturing and Hong Kong’s competitiveness with FutureSkills training for enterprises and academia to enhance digital capabilities and TechEd competencies. For more information, please visit HKPC’s website: www.hkpc.org/en 

Media Enquiry:
Corporate Communications Unit
Corporate Development Division
Hong Kong Productivity Council
Tel: (852) 2788 5833
Email: mediacentre@hkpc.org