Maritime Capture the Flag


Modern vessels rely upon electronic systems for safe passage through waterways and harbors. Shipboard electronic systems include various sensors distributed throughout the vessel to monitor machinery, report satellite weather, provide location, inform on the position of other vessels, operate RADAR, and deliver Internet services for nautical chart data and crew administrative needs. Vessel masters increasingly rely upon these electronic systems to make decisions as ships grow bigger, become more integrated, and carry smaller crews.

Cumulatively these systems form an element of critical infrastructure cyber terrain that is not well understood.

At HACKtheMACHINE we will define maritime cyberspace in three networks:

  • Engineering Network – Industrial control systems that actuate the ship’s propulsion, steering and auxiliary equipment (i.e. engines, depth, speed and water temperature sensors, etc).

  • IT Network – Administrative network which allows the ship to communicate with onshore entities and conduct routine administrative tasks (i.e. email server, network switches, mobile telephone access point, etc).

  • Voyage Network – Sensors and displays that provide the crew with the information to navigate the vessel (i.e. GPS receiver, weather station, RADAR, etc).


Educational Challenge:

In order for the Navy to maintain freedom of the seas, we need individuals in our community of practice that understand the maneuver area in maritime cyber terrain. Team up with fellow cyber patriots, along with an experienced cyber security professional to hack the different networks of a maritime research test bed. Work together as a team to understand the fundamentals of this terrain as you try to reroute ships, bypass networks and spoof signals.

Advanced Challenge:

In this challenge a ship is carrying dangerous cargo to a port in the United States. In order to disrupt this transit, you will be challenged to complete defined missions and capture flags. Gain access to the ship's email server for critical information, alter the ship's course, spoof signals, and get creative. Teams will be scored on each flag captured and mission completed. This game is built upon a typical set of maritime electronics found aboard a workboat sized vessel such as a tug, barge or yacht. This is a “black box” challenge, meaning teams won’t know what kind of systems and components are on the maritime cyber test bed until they arrive at the event.