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PACTF logo.png
PACTF Home Page 04-AUG-2016.png
PACTF Home Page 04-AUG-2016
Type of site
Available inEnglish
OwnerPhillips Academy Techmasters[1]
Created by
  • Yatharth Agarwal
  • Tony Zhaocheng Tan
  • Cameron Wong[2]
LaunchedNovember 12, 2015; 6 years ago (2015-11-12)[3]
Current statusArchived
Written inPython[4]
2016 PACTF Organizers

PACTF was an annual web-based computer security Capture the Flag (CTF) competition for middle and high school students.[2] It was founded by a group of students at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts.[5] The competition's sponsors include the Abbot Academy Association at Phillips Academy; the Information Networking Institute and CyLab at Carnegie Mellon University; the Hariri Institute for Computing, Massachusetts Open Cloud (MOC) project, and Modular Approach to Cloud Security (MACS) project at Boston University; and other entities.[6][7]

This competition follows the Jeopardy CTF format,[8] where teams “hack, decrypt, reverse, and do whatever it takes to solve increasingly challenging security puzzles."[9] Once a team successfully determines the security vulnerability purposefully left in the problem material and executes an attack, they can obtain an answer string called a "flag." By submitting the correct flag, teams can receive feedback and points that improve their ranking.[10]

In April 2016, more than 1000 teams from the United States and other countries participated in the competition.[2] The second and third PACTF competitions took place in the Spring of 2017 and 2018 at similar scales.[11][12][13] The fourth PACTF competition took place in May 2019.[14]


  1. ^ "About PACTF". PACTF. Retrieved 2016-08-04.
  2. ^ a b c Tkacik, Daniel (2016-06-08). "Thanks to CyLab's picoCTF, the Phillips Academy celebrates its own successful hacking contest - Carnegie Mellon University CyLab". Carnegie Mellon University CyLab Security and Privacy Institute. Retrieved 2016-08-03.
  3. ^ "Current Year Grants - Abbot Academy Association". Phillips Academy. Retrieved 2016-08-04.
  4. ^ "PACTF Source Code". GitHub. Retrieved 2016-08-04.
  5. ^ Ramos, JP; Tolo, Larson (2016-05-03). "P.A.C.T.F. Competition Hopes To Educate Students in Computer Security". The Phillipian. Retrieved 2016-08-03.
  6. ^ "INI and CyLab sponsor high school's first hacking contest". Retrieved 2016-08-03.
  7. ^ "Sponsors". PACTF. Retrieved 2016-08-03.
  8. ^ "CTFtime ctf-wtf".
  9. ^ "PACTF". PACTF. Retrieved 2016-08-04.
  10. ^ "Institute, MACS, and MOC Co-Sponsor Online Computer Security Competition » Rafik Hariri Institute for Computing and Computational Science & Engineering | Blog Archive | Boston University". Boston University. 2016-06-23. Retrieved 2016-08-03.
  11. ^ Chang, Tiffany; Cordova-Potter, Zar (2017-04-30). "PACTF Attracts Thousands of Hacking Afficionados [sic] Worldwide". The Phillipian (in American English). Retrieved 2019-04-15.
  12. ^ Hong, Alex (2018-05-26). "PACTF 2018 Writeup: AI". Medium. Retrieved 2019-04-15.
  13. ^ "Phillips Academy Capture the Flag (PACTF) Launches Third Annual Computer Science Competition" (PDF). The Phillipian. 2018-04-20. p. 6. Retrieved 2019-04-15.
  14. ^ PACTF. "PACTF". Retrieved 2019-04-15.