2019 Rules & REgistration Guidelines

Red Team Competition Overview

The Red Team Competition (RED) is organized as a two-part red team operation designed specifically for high school students.

The online Qualification Round in September is run as a high school-level CTF, with challenges related to reverse engineering, web security, forensics, exploitation, and cryptography.

During in-person Finals in November, teams will be tasked with infiltrating and analyzing the findings of an operation using reconnaissance and penetration testing methods. Similar to the Qualification Round, students will need to apply skills related to forensics, cryptography, reverse engineering, and exploitation.

In 2019, RED Finals will be hosted in four CSAW global regions :

  • CSAW Europe at Grenoble INP - Esisar (Valence, France)
  • CSAW MENA at NYU Abu Dhabi (Abu Dhabi, UAE)
  • CSAW México at University Iberoamericana Mexico City (IBERO, Mexico City, Mexico)
  • CSAW US-Canada at NYU Tandon School of Engineering (Brooklyn, New York, USA)

This competition exists for many reasons. For students who are already interested in computer science and cyber security, it provides a fun opportunity to hone skills and gain experience. For students with no prior interest/experience in cyber security and digital forensics, RED helps to increase awareness of educational opportunities and career paths in this dynamic field.

Additional benefits include:

  • Scholarships, prizes, travel awards
  • Pre-college experiences
  • Experience of participating in an international competition with students from around the world
  • Opportunity to meet industry experts and learn about internships

We encourage legally exploring computer systems and learning how computers and systems work. RED does not condone hacking in the illegal sense, such as breaking into machines illegally, stealing information, and launching denial of service attacks.

Qualification Round Dates & Times

CSAW’18 RED will run 20 - 29 September 2019

Start Time: 20:00 UTC Time, 20 September 2019

End Time: 20:00 UTC Time, 29 September 2019

Qualification Round Eligibility

Everyone is welcome to play in the online Qualification Round of RED. We have players from around the world and with different life experiences who participate -- not just high school students. However, even though the Qualification Round is open, only high school teams from certain global regions are eligible to qualify for Finals. Please read the next sections carefully for further details.

Teams/players may play as much or as little as they want through the Qualification Round. For high school students, we recommend dedicating as much time as you have to working through the challenge while still maintaining your normal school and extracurricular schedule.

General Rules for Qualifying Round & Finals Eligibility

  • Registration is required through the RED platform: Registration will remain open through the Qualification Round.
  • Players can compete individually or in teams
  • In order to qualify for Finals, teams must be formed during the Qualification Round and a mentor should be identified.
  • Mentors can assist teams in preparing for the Qualification round, but they should not assist players in solving challenges.
  • Players should compete under only one (1) team name; playing for multiple teams constitutes cheating.
  • Furthermore, teams should work independently; sharing answers privately or publicly or collaborating with another team to secure multiple spots at Finals constitutes cheating.
  • Attacking the infrastructure will result in disqualification and a team-wide CSAW ban
  • Attempting to brute force flags or guess answers on the submission platform is prohibited
  • Use of automated vulnerability scanners, such as SQLMap are not allowed
  • Teams may use any freely available tool to complete a given challenge
  • Tools that must be purchased (e.g., ordered online) are prohibited
  • Receiving assistance from non-team members is prohibited, for example, a team’s mentor or friends. It is okay to use free tools and resources available on the Internet, but it is not okay to ask people (online or offline) to help you solve the problem.


CSAW Europe hosted by Grenoble INP - Esisar

Teams must consist of 1 to 3 students, all of whom must be enrolled in the same high school in France. According to the French education system, this means that students must be preparing for the "Baccalauréat" in either 2nd, 1ere or Terminale at the same lycée. Up to ten (10) teams, with no more than two (2) teams per school, will be invited to Finals. In the event that more than two (2) teams from the same school rank in the top 10, teams with the most points will be invited to Finals.

CSAW MENA hosted by NYU Abu Dhabi

Teams must consist of 1 to 3 students, all of whom must be enrolled in the same high school in the UAE. Eligible teams qualify for Finals by getting the maximum available points. Ten (10) teams, with no more than one (1) team per school, will qualify for Finals. In the event that more than one team from the same school ranks in the top 10, the team with the most points will be invited to Finals. 

CSAW México hosted by University Iberoamericana Mexico City

Teams must consist of 1 to 3 students, all of whom must be enrolled in the same high school in México. Eligible teams qualify for Finals by getting the maximum available points. Up to ten (10) teams, with no more than one (1) team per school, will qualify for Finals. In the event that more than one team from the same school ranks in the top 10, the team with the most points will be invited to Finals. 

CSAW US-Canada hosted by NYU Tandon School of Engineering

Teams must consist of 1 to 3 students, all of whom must be enrolled in the same high school in the United States (sorry, Canada is not included in here). Eleven (11) teams will be invited to Finals as follows:

  • The top 2 scoring teams per US region, with no more than 1 team per high school (8 teams)

The 4 US Regions are defined here: with American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands as part of the West region. Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands are considered part of the South region.

  • The top 2 scoring all-female teams (2 teams)
  • The top scoring New York City team (1 team)

Recommendations for Qualifying Round

This is a recommendation, not a requirement for participation. 

  • Download Ghidra, the United States NSA's software reverse engineering suite of tools 
  • Minimum computer specs: Intel i3 and above (or AMD equivalent), 4 GB RAM, 128 GB HDD/SSD with at least 20GB free space available
  • Unfiltered Internet access at 5+ Mbps, as well as the ability to install software.
  • We recommend that teams access the RED communication channel, Discord, and keep this open during the competition to be alerted of any updates.

Qualification Round Platform

The qualification round of RED is played on an online platform: Only registered teams will be given access to the challenges at the “Start Time.”

During the Qualification Round, challenges will be released on the RED platform on a staggered schedule over the course of the competition. All challenges will be released before 28 September 2019. Teams earns points by solving challenges. Points will be displayed on a public scoreboard. The scoreboard may be hidden closer to the end of the competition.

Preparation Resources & Tools

CTF101, a resource from the NYU Tandon OSIRIS Lab >

CSAW365, an archive of past CTF challenges >

Trail of Bits >

Mentor’s Role

Each team is required to identify a mentor: either a teacher or a parent/guardian approved by the team’s high school. The mentor can assist the team in preparing to compete in both the Qualification and Final competitions. Mentors should not assist students in solving challenges during the Qualification Round nor the Final Competition.

Typically, the mentor will also serve as the chaperone for teams who qualify for and travel to the Final Competition. In the event that a mentor is unavailable to accompany a team to Finals, an alternative chaperone who is approved by the team’s school and guardians can be identified.

Finalist Notification

Finalists and mentors will be notified via email by their host region no later than 4 October 2019. Teams and mentors will receive notification via the emails that are registered on

Travel Award

A Travel Award will be presented to each qualifying team and their mentor/chaperone. Travel Awards vary by region. Typically, transportation and, where applicable, lodging (hotel or residence hall), and meals are provided, free of cost to the Finalists. Teams will be provided details when they are invited to Finals.

Final Round Dates & Times

In-person Finals will be held 7 - 8 November 2019. Dates of CSAW Finals and competition times may differ slightly for each global region based on time zones, but typically, the Final competition is held on Friday and runs for 7 - 8 hours.

Format of Finals

Finals requires in-person participation. Teams will be given a prompt with a single piece of evidence to be used as a starting point. Teams will then need to employ a variety of techniques to discover additional evidence. Evidence may be physical or digital. Each team will be required to submit a report with their findings, to be assessed and scored on-site by a panel of industry judges. The winners will be announced at the award ceremony. A 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place team is identified for each global region.


Prizes vary by international region. Please check the CSAW website as well as the regional CSAW webpages for details on regional prizes.


Please direct your inquiries as follows:

CSAW Europe >

CSAW MENA > pending

CSAW México > pending 

CSAW US-Canada & General Inquiries >


Check out the scoreboard from RED'19