An Offline Capture The Flag-Style Virtual Machine and an Assessment of Its Value for Cybersecurity Education

Research output: Contribution to conference (unpublished)Paper

Colleges, School and Institutes


Online Capture The Flag (CTF) competitions are a popular means of engaging students with the world of cybersecurity. This paper reports on the use of a virtual machine (VM) framework that has been developed as part of cybersecurity courses offered to both second-year undergraduate and master’s degree students in the School of Computer Science at the University of Birmingham; the framework features CTF-style challenges that must be solved in order to complete the courses’ formative assessment. As well as acquiring flags from the framework, students must also provide traditional written answers to questions and sit an examination. We analyse how well students’ performance on the CTF-style challenges correlates with their achievement in the remaining formative assessment and examination, thus providing evidence to show whether CTFs are effective as an assessment tool in academic cybersecurity courses.


Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 11 Aug 2015
EventUsenix Security Symposium - Washington, United States
Duration: 10 Aug 201514 Aug 2015


ConferenceUsenix Security Symposium
CountryUnited States


  • Cyber Security, Education, Virtual Machines, Capture the flag