Capture The Flag

When it comes to gaining experience within cybersecurity, there are various routes that you can take; this can at times, include vendor certifications, collegiate degree programs, vocational schools, but can also include hands-on practical training and events.

Capture the Flag (CTF) style events come in various shapes and sizes. A few common types include Jeopardy, Red v Blue, Hacking, Web Exploitation, Bug Bounty Programs, Etc... Many of these events are free to participants and can be a great way to practice the skills and concepts you are learning about, they can provide a means to grow your own professional and technical network, they can provide a means to be exposed to new concepts, and can drive continuing education and professional development. Many times these events are virtual but can be related to any of the 100's of conferences and conventions that happen globally related to cybersecurity and related concepts.

There are many platforms that have become public within the past couple of years like TryHackMe, HackTheBox, Defcon CTF, etc. that provide a subscription based model for annual access. While Many colleges switch between these various services I would recommend starting with the various free competitions that occur throughout the year.

How To Find a Competition

Sites similar to CTFtime can help find global events that take place as well as a means to track your progress and success during events. You can also find similar sites hosted on blogs, and through GitHub among various other sources.

Some of the best competitions that I have ever participated in providing a well rounded look across the various cybersecurity careers include the Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (CCDC), Collegiate Penetration Testing Competition (CPTC), MITRE Cyber Academy, Global Cyberlympics (GCL), and National Cyber League (NCL).