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Compete in the World’s Largest Hacking Competition – PicoCTF!

PicoCTF high school computer security competition begins March 31!

picoCTF – a free, online computer security competition for students grades 6-12 – is coming March 31, 2017! The game is designed for total beginners *and* experts alike, and over 30,000 people have already played. Students can pre-register today on the website. Please take a moment to watch the orientation video.


picoCTF is a computer security competition open to students grades 6-12. The competition is a series of challenges where students must reverse engineer, break, hack, decrypt, or do whatever it takes to solve the problem. The competition is open from March 31st to April 14th, 2017. Everything is exclusively on the Internet and completely free. Registration will not close until the end of the competition, and there is no penalty for registering later. 


Anyone can play, but only eligible individuals will be able to win and receive prizes. An individual is eligible if they are attending a school in the United States and are a 6th to 12th grade student.


picoCTF has received over $30,000 for prizes this year! Specific amounts cannot be announced at this time as they are finalizing funding with their sponsors.


Once the competition begins, participants will be able to log into using the username and password provided at registration. If participants have forgotten their username or password, a reset function will be available once competition opens.


To accommodate the diverse backgrounds participating in picoCTF, the competition is organized into four levels each significantly more difficult than the last. Level 1 is targeted at students with no programming experience but apt at using a computer. Level 2 is for students with introductory programming experience, perhaps in languages such as Visual Basic or Alice. Level 3 targets AP Computer Science students with a stronger background in programming. Level 4 features a diverse set of problems ranging from difficult to mind-bogglingly difficult.


A team need not solve every challenge in a level before unlocking the next level. The problems in each level have been designed such that a new level can be unlocked even while avoiding entire categories (e.g. cryptography).

Playing the Game

Similar to the preview, competition challenges will be presented in the context of a story-driven game. The *game* requires a modern web browser and a reasonably powerful computer to play. Each challenge is worth a fixed number of points. A competitor earns the respective number of points regardless of the progress of other teams. Scores are calculated independent of time, but time will be used as a tie breaker.

Hints and Lectures

Some problems have associated hints. Hints can contain text, links, and even entire video lectures relevant to solving the problem.


While there are no limitations on the resources or tools that you can use, only students can solve challenges. Others can only facilitate in solving problems (e.g. helping setup tools and providing resources). Additionally, competitors may not interfere with the progress of other competitors or the competition infrastructure. Breaking any of these rules will result in disqualification and notification of the affiliated school.


picoCTF would like to thank their diamond sponsor, Cognizant, for helping make picoCTF possible.


Any questions should be directed to Or, if it’s easier, you can chat with picoCTF on Twitter or Facebook.

March 16, 2017

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