Feedback and reflections following participation as a judge at a TraceLabs' CTF

On Saturday August 7, a new CTF (Capture The Flag) was held, offered by the Canadian organization TraceLabs. This competition takes place around real cases of disappearance and 100 to 200 teams of four people (depending on the session) compete to find relevant and useful information on these missing persons.

Eric RUFFIE, founder and manager of the company, participated for the seventh time in this CTF. Particularly, this participation was not as a competitor but as a judge. The objective was therefore no longer to find relevant information on missing persons but to validate or reject the information (flags) submitted by the teams each judge was responsible.

This was a unique opportunity to see "behind the scenes", the very heavy work done by the judges for the management of the different teams, the understanding of the different leads followed but also the ways of submitting information. Each judge has several teams in charge and none are alike: some flog heavily, others very few; some do research on family and friendly environment of the missing person, others directly launch research on him / her; some teams score every piece of information they find while others only score those that score high points.

The judge must help "his" teams to submit the information they find in the best possible way, and for this he must quickly identify how operate each of them. This role is not only to reject flags and sanction, far from it. However, some teams try to bend some rules, it is up to the judge to discuss with them to prevent this from happening again.

Interface used by judges

It is also important to underline the very hard work carried out by TraceLabs' teams, both for the identification of cases to be included in the CTFs as well as for the preparation of the competition and the management of the different platforms used. A big thank you to them for their availability alongside the judges and participants, and this throughout the CTF.

A big thank you also to the other judges with whom it was possible to exchange views throughout the competition, to ask for a second opinion or simply to discuss and relieve the pressure that is still present. Thanks to you fellows!

As already mentioned, TraceLabs is a Canadian organization and the vast majority of disappearance cases submitted to CTF participants therefore concern American citizens. We can only hope that a day will come when a CTF will be organized in France on cases of disappearance affecting citizens of this country, of course in agreement and with the green light from the police service in charge of the investigation.