MSSI student and team takes seventh place at DEF CON 2023

August 25, 2023

A student in the Information Security Institute’s Master of Science in Security Informatics program was a member of a team that placed seventh at this year’s DEF CON hacking convention. DEFCON, held earlier this month in Las Vegas, brings together some of the world’s top cybersecurity students, researchers, and professionals, is often considered the “Olympics of hacking.”

Anais Huang (right) during the DEF CON competition.

DEF CON is a Capture the Flag competition where teams attempt to attack and defend networks. These types of competitions are used in academia as well as in the military. The teams that participate at DEF CON include students from institutions around the world.

Anais Huang, a MSSI student, was one member of the P1G BuT S4D team that qualified for DEF CON by placing in the top 10 of a hacking competition in late May. The top 12 of more than 1,800 teams from around the world make it to DEF CON.

Huang was the only JHU student on the P1G BuT S4D team. Huang explains that she was an award-winning Capture the Flag player when she was an undergraduate student at Wuhan University in China. She met several of her teammates on the P1G BuT S4D team through previous CTF competitions.

DEF CON competitions began at 10 a.m. each day, and teams allowed to begin configuring their networks one hour before the start of competition. To prepare, members of P1G BuT S4D practiced by completing CTF-style challenges together online each week, including tasks related to artificial intelligence.

For Huang competing at DEF CON was a dream come true. “Being able to participate in DEF CON CTF Final was exciting. It was a fiercely competitive competition, and the tasks were engaging and challenging. Additionally, this opportunity allowed me to connect with outstanding CTF competitors from around the world and inspired me to continue growing,” she says.


JHU Information Security Institute