SANS+HBCU Cyber Range: 2nd Annual Black History Month CTF

February 25th – 28th we are excited to hold our 2nd annual Black History Month CTF! With goals of this being our largest HBCU Cyber Range to date. We are calling on all current students and alumni of Historically Black Colleges and Universities to show up and compete! Registration Opens Feb 1.

SANS+HBCU hosts capture the flag events specifically for HBCU students, alumni, and faculty. Around the world, HBCUs are known for their bands, culture, and history. Now it’s time for them to be known for their cybersecurity programs and alumni! Be part of HBCU Cyber Range Competitions, which are run by the SANS Institute semi-annually.

SANS+HBCU Cyber Range: 2nd Annual Black History Month CTF

Bigger and Better!

In our first-ever BHM CTF event we proudly awarded winners from the following institutions:

  • Bowie State University
  • Johnson C. Smith University
  • Voorhees College
  • Howard University
  • University of Virgin Islands

Will your HBCU be next?

This year’s competition will repeat as a four-day around the clock event. Allowing individuals, the flexibility to capture as many flags as possible through 96 hours of challenges. As a competitor you’ll encounter self-paced, hands-on challenges gaining skills that are applicable to real-world jobs and will include concepts such as:

  • Using a command line interface
  • Scripting and programming
  • Thinking creatively
  • Interaction with pcaps and flow logs, parsing, extracting, and visualizing packets
  • Introduction and use of common forensic tools
  • Interaction with common developer pitfalls

This is a multi-disciplinary competition that increases in difficulty as you successfully complete challenges. Hints and Tips are provided within the challenge, so no prior experience is necessary!

Download the event flier here.

What are we playing for?

The top 5 will be awarded the following prizes:

1st PLACE: NetWars Continuous & $300 Amazon Gift Card

2nd PLACE: $200 Amazon Gift Card

3rd PLACE: $150 Amazon Gift Card

4th PLACE*: $100 Amazon Gift Card

5th PLACE*: $50 Amazon Gift Card

*4th & 5th place winners will be selected based on most improved competitor

Registration Details

Registration for the competition will open February 1st alongside the publishing of the event-code.

This is a first come, first serve style event, so the first 500 individuals will be a part of this momentous event! Individuals who complete our connect form or who completed the interest form, will receive early access to the event-code.

We strongly recommend reviewing and confirming your understanding of a Capture the Flag event before registering. For resources and tools on preparing please check out our resource guide: https://sansurl.com/sanshbcu-cyber-range-guide

Why Participate?

Participants will gain cybersecurity skills by competing in progressively tougher hands-on challenges during the self-paced events. These skills are applicable to real-world jobs, such as:

  • Using a command line interface
  • Scripting and programming
  • Thinking creatively
  • Interaction with pcaps and flow logs, parsing, extracting, and visualizing packets
  • Introduction and use of common forensic tools
  • Interaction with common developer pitfalls

We host both intermediate and beginner versions, each level providing tips and hints within the challenges so persons at any level can participate.

Show the world where the real HBCU talent lives and be Historically Black in Cyber!

Prizes are awarded to the winners of both beginner and intermediate level challenges. Winners must prove their HBCU enrollment or affiliation prior to awarding of prizes. Players cannot win double prizes. Previous SANS+HBCU Cyber Range winners are ineligible to win prizes again.

Who's Playing?

Participants from the following HBCUs have participated in various Ranges. Get YOUR HBCU on the map in the next one!

  • Alabama A&M University
  • Alabama State University
  • Albany State University
  • Bowie State University
  • Hampton University
  • Howard University
  • Johnson C. Smith University
  • Mississippi Valley State University
  • Norfolk State University
  • Voorhees College
  • Xavier University of Louisiana
  • University of the Virgin Islands


To successfully participate you will need access to a laptop or desktop with a Virtual Machine (VM) installed. To prepare yourself, we recommend that you download a VM on to your machine and test to ensure the VM works properly before the event opens so you’re prepared!


1. What is a Cyber Range or CTF?

Capture the Flag (CTF) events are typically competitions and challenges that provide hands-on learning for novice through advanced participants to gain cybersecurity skills. The purpose of the competition is to capture as many flags as possible for points by solving cybersecurity challenges along the way.

2. What is an HBCU?

Historically Black College and Universities (HBCU) is a designation given to institutions of higher education in the United States that were established before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 with the intention of primarily serving the African-American community.

3. Who can participate in SANS+HBCU Cyber Range events?

These events are specifically created for HBCU students, alumni, and faculty. While anyone in the cybersecurity community can participate in the event, only HBCU students and alumni are eligible to win the prizes for this event.

4. Who do I contact if I have general questions about the competition, proof of eligibility to win prizes, or future partnerships?

Please send your general inquires to HBCUChallenge@sans.org

5. What is the Cyber FastTrack scholarship and NetWars?

To learn more about SANS.edu CFT scholarship and SANS.org NetWars please visit: Cyber FastTrack or NetWars Continuous

6. How do you determine who wins prizes and scholarships?

After the competition, we’ll check the leaderboard for top performers, verify their HBCU affiliation or enrollment, and reach out to confirm affiliation/enrollment prior to rewarding prizes.

7. Who do I contact if I have issues during the competition?

Please email Sans-ctf@sans.org if you have any technical issues.

8. How do I prepare for the event?

There are dozens of free resources on the internet to help you improve your cybersecurity skills. We recommend these:

9. What if I’m not affiliated with an HBCU but still want to play?

SANS offers a wide range of CTFs and competitions. Some are affiliated with specific SANS courses, while others are open to the entire cybersecurity community. Learn more here.

10. Do you have zoom backgrounds for events?

YES, WE DO! You can access them here.