CyberGame: First Evaluation 24 Hours after the Game and a New Dimension. Participants Used Artificial Intelligence!

The 2nd edition of the national cybersecurity CyberGame competition ended up with 2,334 registered participants on both the Slovak and English playing platforms. The expert guarantor of the contest is the National Security Authority.

1,788 players were registered on the Slovak playing platform, 832 of them were active players, which means a significant increase in both categories. 754 participants were under the age of 25, and the organisers are checking the identity of the youngest player, who stated the age of ten years.

CyberGame 2023 brought together experienced and motivated players – three of them solved all the tasks completely and had the same number of points. “There were more tasks and more difficult tasks in the second edition, nevertheless the participants played very well. To get such high scores, they had to study harder, which led to their professional growth and the discovery of new talents,” says Rastislav Janota, Director of the National Cyber Security Centre SK-CERT.

Even CyberGame did not avoid the current phenomenon of the availability of generative language models based on artificial intelligence. The explosion in their use, especially ChatGPT, has probably changed forever the style of handling CTF (Capture the Flag) cybersecurity games. Thus, the SK-CERT team had to change the method of game creation and testing.

“For some tasks, using a generative model would completely remove the human dimension, so we took advantage of the model’s weaknesses and adjusted the tasks so that the solution was not so straightforward. We tested CyberGame against the available ChatGPT 3.5 version, but this was replaced by the upgraded ChatGPT 4 version just before game opening. We have to admit that we were lucky, because even though this model is significantly better, each task still contained points that even this model did not solve successfully,” explains Milan Pikula, a member of the author team.

The author team observed that some players used generative models effectively and were aware of their strengths and weaknesses. “Great job and excellent skill to quickly adopt a new technology to your advantage!” remarks Milan Pikula.

However, some players considered the AI model to be infallible and the author team found many reports of “flawed scenarios” in the communication channel during the game. Several support requests, especially in the field of forensic analysis, contained artifacts looking very trustworthily that turned out to be “hallucinations” of the model.

This way, the SK-CERT team experienced an unexpected effect during the contest. Since even the professionals could not rule out in advance whether this or that artifact could actually be obtained from the provided images, it cost them a lot of time to investigate these cases.

As teamwork is prohibited when solving the tasks, any cases where such cooperation could lead to an unfair advantage in the awarded positions will be additionally penalised. The authors of the game attribute this phenomenon to the attractiveness of the contest and the high level of competition, while at the same time they insist on strict individual evaluation and appreciation of excellence.

Ten CyberGame players under the age of 25 have been nominated for the national Slovakia Team in the prestigious European CyberSecurity Challenge 2023 and have started training together.

The full results of CyberGame 2023 will be announced on 17 May. The organisers will invite the winners in all categories to reveal their identities and receive their prizes.

The awards ceremony will take place in the Slovak Radio studio in Bratislava on 9 June.

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