In the Embedded Security Challenge (ESC), a Blue Team designs a target system. A Red Teams try to hack it.

A team of security experts from NYU Tandon School of Engineering competes with participating universities using a red team/blue team approach to mimic real-world attacks. Contestants must exploit the weaknesses of a target system, assess the effectiveness of their hardware security techniques, identify vulnerabilities and implement effective defense mechanisms. 

ESC is an educational, research-oriented tournament aimed at hacking into the hardware of embedded systems. In fact, it's the oldest hardware security competition in the world.

This year's ESC examines the security implications of the wide deployment of Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices, and how IoT devices can expand the threat landscape enabling covert data exfiltration attacks. The competition focuses on the exploration, design, and experimental demonstration of covert data exfiltration attacks against IoT devices - smart light bulbs in particular - that can leak secret information through side-channels, bridging air-gapped networks.

All competition details and instructions regarding the submission process can be found on the ESC Github repository

ESC is developed by members of The MoMA Lab at NYU Abu Dhabi. 

Participating Regions

  • CSAW Europe - hosted by INP-Grenoble Esisar (Valence, France) 
  • CSAW India - hosted by IIT Kanpur (Kanpur, India) 
  • CSAW MENA - hosted by the Higher School of Communication of Tunis (Ariana, Tunisia) 
  • CSAW US-Canada - hosted by NYU Tandon School of Engineering, founding institution (Brooklyn, USA) 


7 June 2018: Registration Opens & Competition Details published 

24 September 2018 17 September 2018 3 September 2018: Registration deadline extension. 

8 - 11 November 2018: In-person Final demonstrations 

Competition Details

Competition details for the Embedded Security Challenge.


Students and faculty leading ESC development.

Meet the experts who will be judging ESC.

Awards given for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place.

See the CSAW'18 ESC finalists.

Winners of CSAW'18 Embedded Security.