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Cover image for How to solve CTF ☠️ (Capture_the_flags)
Kiran Sethumadhavan
Kiran Sethumadhavan

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How to solve CTF ☠️ (Capture_the_flags)

Challenge types

Jeopardy style CTFs challenges are typically divided into categories. I'll try to briefly cover the common ones.

Cryptography - Typically involves decrypting or encrypting a piece of data

Steganography - Tasked with finding information hidden in files or images

Binary - Reverse engineering or exploiting a binary file

Web - Exploiting web pages to find the flag

Pwn - Exploiting a server to find the flag

Where do I start?

If I managed to pique your curiosity, I've compiled a list of resources that helped me get started learning. CTF veterans, feel free to add your own resources in the comments below!

Learning - Introduction to common CTF techniques such as cryptography, steganography, web exploits (Incomplete) - Tips and tricks relating to typical CTF challenges/scenarios - Explanations of solutions to past CTF challenges

Resources - CTF event tracker - Comprehensive list of tools and further reading

Tools (That I use often)

binwalk - Analyze and extract files

burp suite - Feature packed web penetration testing framework

stegsolve - Pass various filters over images to look for hidden text

GDB - Binary debugger

The command line :)


Many of the "official" CTFs hosted by universities and companies are time-limited competitions. There are many CTFs however that are online 24/7 that can be used as practice and learning tools. Here are some that I found to be friendly for beginners. - A collection of various user-submitted challenges aimed towards newcomers - A series of progressively more difficult pwn-style challenges. (Start with the bandit series) - Yearly time-limited CTF now available to use as practice


CTF is a great hobby for those interested in problem-solving and/or cyber security. The community is always welcoming and it can be a lot of fun tackling challenges with friends.

Thank you for reading!
Happy Hacking ☠️

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Justin Varghese