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News | Sept. 20, 2019

NSA Launches Latest Codebreaker Challenge

By Betsy Stein NSA/CSS Communications Officer

Are you a U.S. undergraduate or graduate student interested in attempting to crack a cyber-challenge similar to those that regularly threaten national security? Then sign up for the 2019 NSA Codebreaker Challenge!

The annual Codebreaker Challenge offers students a closer look at the type of work done at NSA and provides the opportunity to develop skills needed to achieve the Agency’s national security mission. The problems touch on skills like software reverse engineering, cryptanalysis, exploit development, block chain analysis and more.

This year’s challenge scenario is about tech savvy terrorists who have developed a new suite of communication tools that are being used for attack planning purposes. Intelligence suggests the terrorists are communicating via TerrorTime, a custom Android secure messaging app. Those who attempt the challenge will be required to reverse engineer and develop new exploitation capabilities against TerrorTime to enable message spoofing, user masquerades, and message decryption.

“The Codebreaker Challenge closely mirrors the real world scenarios we deal with every day at NSA,” said challenge creator Eric Bryant. “It gives students the opportunity to test their knowledge, build new skills, and develop experience in areas typically not covered by course curricula in cybersecurity.”

This year’s Codebreaker Challenge runs Sept. 20, 2019 to Jan. 10, 2020 and is open to students at any U.S. based academic institution. Register and see if you can defeat TerrorTime.


For more information about NSA opportunities for students, visit our Resources for Students & Educators page.