CMU Cybersecurity competition

What is picoCTF?

picoCTF is a computer security game targeted at middle and high school students. The game consists of a series of challenges centered around a unique storyline where participants must reverse engineer, break, hack, decrypt, or do whatever it takes to solve the challenge. The challenges are all set up with the intent of being hacked, making it an excellent, legal way to get hands-on experience.

This year’s competition features a brand new adventure. When your friend disappears unexpectedly, you must learn and use computer security skills to uncover and decipher critical evidence behind their whereabouts. Can you find your friend before it’s too late?

Game overworld: Investigate the room for more clues.
Challenge: Grep Is Your Friend


PicoCTF would like to thank our sponsors for providing funds for development and the following prizes

  • 1st place: $5,000 + paid trip to Carnegie Mellon University for the top team!
  • 2nd place: $2,500
  • 3rd place: $1,500
  • 4th place: $500
  • 5th place: $500
  • 6th-10th place: $250

We want to hear from you!

If you have any questions or comments about picoCTF (or just want to get in touch) please do not hesitate to contact us. A member of PPP will respond as soon as possible.

Educators can contact us at

Members of the press can contact us at

Potential sponsors can contact us at

Find a security bug in the picoCTF framework that lets you get a flag for one of the challenges after the tutorial without solving it? Email us at You may get a bug bounty!

All others please email

Who we are

picoCTF is hosted by cybersecurity experts from the Plaid Parliament of Pwning in Carnegie Mellon University’s Security and Privacy Institute, CyLab.

David Brumley

Project Lead


Project Manager

Marty Carlisle

Technical Lead

Sarah Bien

Story Lead

Azer Wang

Story Lead

Bill Parks

Problem Development Lead

Melanie Rich-Wittrig

Problem Developer

Beth Goldman

UI Developer

Kevin Cooper

Problem Developer

Jake Olkin

Problem Developer

Samuel Kim

Problem Developer

Zach Wade

Problem Developer

Corwin de Boor

Problem Developer

David Hashe

Problem Developer

Carolina Zarate

Problem Developer

Keane Lucas

Problem Developer

Tim Becker

Problem Developer

William Yang

Problem Developer

Eric Wardner

Problem Developer

Matt Savage

Problem Developer

Ryan Montgomery

Web Developer

Presented by our Diamond Sponsor