Want to get attendees engaged and excited at your next meeting? Give them the chance to show off their talents—and maybe win a prize or two along the way—as the High Technology Crime Investigators Association will do at its conference next month.
Capture the Flag is growing up and going to conferences.
The classic outdoor children’s game will make an updated appearance as the Symantec Cyber Readiness Challenge at the High Technology Crime Investigators Association (HTCIA) International Conference next month, giving attendees—professionals involved in investigating cybercrime—a chance to compete against one another in a challenge to test their expertise and technical skills.
“People don’t realize how much they know until they’re given the opportunity to show off everything that they’ve learned along the way,” said Maria Noboa, a member of HTCIA’s marketing committee. “We thought this would be a great opportunity for attendees to not only see what this exercise is like, but also to learn along the way, because this challenge really allows people to learn new tools and techniques that they can then apply to their own work.”
Creative learning formats can also help to change the pace of a typical conference and keep people excited, Noboa said. “We don’t want everyone just to become complacent and think, ‘We’re going to be sitting there and listening to people speak.’ So we thought this challenge would be a great way to kick off the event and educate people in a fun, engaging way.”
Symantec, the security software company that created the game, describes the challenge as an “immersive, interactive capture-the-flag competition that models scenarios after the current threat landscape using IT infrastructure.” It says the game “puts participants in the hacker’s shoes to understand their targets, technology, and thought processes so [participants] can ultimately better protect their organization and themselves.”
“It’s not just for experts and it’s not just for a certain skill level—they really have made it into an event that anybody can participate in, whether they’re a student in computer forensics or they’ve been in the industry for 30 years,” Noboa said. “They really have managed to find a way to come from all angles to get an idea of what it’s like to be in a hacker’s shoes.”
The pride that comes along with winning would be enough motivation for some, but Symantec will award over $4,250 in cash and prizes, including $2,500 to the winner. Having that kind of incentive to do well can really up the ante.
“It forces people to think outside the box,” she said. “Competition brings out that certain spirit in people, but it also gives you a little edge in terms of making you think on your feet.”
What kind of fun and engaging activities has your association added to your conference’s lineup? Share your story in the comments.