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They decided to set up shop in a corner office, overlooking the Charles River from the 14th-story penthouse in Kendall Square. Here, lofted above the MIT campus and the tech-startup-saturated neighborhood of Cambridge, MA, four of Booz Allen's best hackers huddled, anxiously awaiting the challenge. Laptops primed, stomachs full, energy drinks stocked—a normal Saturday, at least on the surface.
Shipping up to Boston
These four flew some ago 400 miles north of their Central Maryland homes for the Red Team Challenge, a cyber security Capture the Flag (CTF) competition. Organized by Hack/Secure—a Boston-based cyber security, technology, and big data community—and hosted at renowned security engineering firm Rapid7's Cambridge office, the Red Team Challenge attracted some of the top information security experts from this side of the Mississippi.
Floor to ceiling glass walls and windows lined the exterior of the 14th floor Rapid7 penthouse. Inside the mood was focused. Thirty-some-odd others made the trek, eight competing teams comprised of various reverse engineers, penetration testers, malware analysts, and generalist hackers. As the Booz Allen team huddled in a circle, discussing their strategy, they heard rumblings from a nearby room: the rules were being announced. Go time.
“What is a Capture the Flag (CTF) anyway? It's a computer security competition in which participants gain experience in securiting a vulnerable machine, as well as conducting and reacting to the types of cyber attacks that occur in the real world.”