Cyber Apocalypse CTF 2021: Event Recap

28 Apr 2021

We saved the Earth! After 5 crazy and intense days, Cyber Apocalypse CTF 2021 is over. It was our first global community Capture The Flag competition and we are excited to call it a success: from the 19th until the 23rd of April, 9,900 players and 4,700 teams joined and fought hard to reach the top of the scoreboard. 

Cyber Apocalypse CTF 2021 in a nutshell:

Our First Global Community CTF
The event was a teamwork masterpiece that took weeks of preparation, brainstorming, coding, and Sci-Fi movie watch-parties (we needed to come prepared after all). We all wanted to find a way to thank our awesome community, and what’s better than a free and beginner-friendly hacking competition? A place to hack the best content, compete to win divine prizes, and interact with the community.

Cyber Apocalypse was announced, after releasing mysterious teasers scattered across our social media platforms, on 11th of March 2021. Being an extraordinary event, we wanted to go above and beyond, making it not just a hacking competition but a story full of enthusiasm and suspense from the very beginning until the last second.

A special event needed a unique and riveting story: our planet got hacked!
The 22nd of April is International Earth Day and, guess what, the Earth was hacked by malicious extraterrestrials. Their ultimate plan was to seize control of our planet. Will the Hack The Box community be able to push the aliens back from where they came?

Cyber Apocalypse CTF 2021
This is how we created Cyber Apocalypse CTF 2021 by Hack The Box & CryptoHack, a non-stop Capture The Flag competition starting on Monday, 19th of April 2021 at 12:00 UTC and ending on Friday, 23rd of April 2021 at 18:00 UTC. A must-go event for every cybersecurity enthusiast!
This CTF was designed for all levels of knowledge from infosec beginners to cybersecurity enthusiasts, advanced hackers and for everyone who wanted to join our squad to test their skills. In order to make this event the most inclusive and fun CTF competition, we aimed to focus on beginner-friendly challenges (easy to medium difficulty) with a broad range of categories: Web, Pwn, Forensics, Hardware, Reversing, Crypto, and Misc. Every participant would be able to find something for their tastes and skills.

Top-Notch Hacking Content (61 Challenges - 7 Categories)
Next step? Providing to our community the best CTF challenges, with a Sci-Fi flavour! HTB content creators have years of experience by participating in all big Capture The Flag events out there. We decided to form a team of Subject Matter Experts and give you the most supreme hacking experience with amazing themed content for Jeopardy-Style CTF lovers. 

But that’s not all. We are glad to partner with the CryptoHack team in our event to create the most advanced crypto challenges: from everyday and real-life cryptography algorithms to the most extraordinary math problems.

Curious to have just a sneak-peek?

  • The Galactic Times [Web]: Aliens' newspaper. Can you find a way to view the forbidden pages?
  • Alien Phish [Forensics]: There's something wrong with this presentation...
  • Super Metroid [Crypto]: Help Samus! The maps are encrypted with the aliens' custom protocol.

...and 58 more themed challenges divided into different difficulty levels: 23 Easy, 27 Medium, 9 Hard, and 3 Insane. Can you feel the X-Files rewatch vibes?

Hack For A Good Cause
During the CTF, every player had also the opportunity to participate in a bigger cause. For every challenge with at least one solve, we made a donation to Code.org, a nonprofit organization dedicated to expanding access to computer science education and increasing participation by young women and students from underrepresented groups. By the end of the CTF, Hack The Box donated $3,000 to the mission of Code.org!

The Winners
Who made it to the top of the scoreboard? It was a battle to the last flag!


All the details are provided by the scoreboard present on Hack The Box CTF platform, with detailed information on the competition. 4,740 teams competed but we have only one grand winner. Let’s give a big round of applause to AIGenerated! This is how the final TOP 3 looks like:
🥇 AIGenerated
🥈 HackTheCardboardBox
🥉 bootplug

And here is the TOP 10:



We want to congratulate all participants! For us, you are all winners. The purpose of this CTF was not only to compete, but to learn together, have fun, and show the power of our great community. We have been impressed by the high participation (...and our servers too!) and the enthusiasm that never went down during the 5 days of the competition. We are proud of you!

To seal this incredible event, and thanks to the support of CryptoHack and Code.org, we have put together a stunning prize list! A total prize value of £11,500 was awaiting the winning teams of the competition. 
  • 1st Team: 1,500 USD Cash, £100 HTB Swag Card, HTB Stickers, Annual VIP+, and 1,000 Academy Cubes
  • 2nd Team: 1,000 USD Cash, £50 HTB Swag Card, HTB Stickers, Annual VIP +, and 500 Academy Cubes
  • 3rd Team: 500 USD Cash, £25 HTB Swag Card, HTB Stickers, 6 Months VIP +, and 250 Academy Cubes
  • 4th Team: 6 Months VIP + and 250 Academy Cubes
  • 5th Team: 3 Months VIP + and 250 Academy Cubes
  • 6th-10th Team: 1 Month VIP+ each
  • Team with Most Bloods: Code.org Exclusive Swag (including T-Shirts, Caps, Chargers, Stickers)
  • Team with Most Cryptography Challenges Points: CryptoHack Exclusive T-Shirts
Furthermore, every player who achieved at least 20 points during Cyber Apocalypse had the chance to download their certificate of attendance. Out of 9,900 participants, we now have 1,730 certified planet defenders!



And the feedback is glorious...



Till The Next One…
Hack The Box has a proven track record of organizing great competitions. Not counting Cyber Apocalypse, we have hosted more than 70 CTFs, making 6,132 teams catching over 8,000 flags

We are already working on the 2022 edition with the intention of involving even more players all around the world. We almost reached 10,000 players at the first try, how far can we go with a year of preparation ahead? Our global and free community CTF will become an annual iconic event for any person active in the cybersecurity space out there.

You can leave a huge mark on the next edition: help us find the theme of the event! Aliens are now quite scared and they won’t come back, so what will be the next treat the HTB community will face?

Are you a company team that experienced the CTF magic and wants to host a CTF at work? Guess what, we can help. Check here how to host a Business CTF with Hack The Box.

Are you a company that wants to join forces and be part of the event next year? Reach out to us at [email protected]ackthebox.eu to co-sponsor the event and help us make it even more massive.

Happy Hacking!
Hack The Box Team