Poland boasts best white-hat hackers

Polish IT security specialists came top in the general classification of international white-hat hacker competitions.

White-hat hackers are looking for security gaps in IT systems to patch them as soon as possible and prevent the real hackers—the dark-hat ones—from getting access to them. Capture the Flag (CTF) is an international series of contests to select the world’s hacking masters who follow the light side of the force.

Fotolia_51490712_M.jpg The Polish team Dragon Sector ranked best in the world in the previous year’s edition of CTF. They took part in 33 events in total, winning 7 and reaching a podium in 18 of them. Polish hackers beat out over 2,000 teams from, among others, the US, Russia, Germany and Japan.

“Almost every sector of economy benefits from the knowledge and skills of the so-called white-hat hackers, including military companies, banks, and small and medium-sized enterprises. IT security affects everybody without exception,” Tomasz Bukowski, a member of the winning Dragon Sector, told Polska.pl.

The CTF events take place every couple of weeks, both online and offline. Within a set time period, teams solve tasks dealing with, among others, network and application security, software analysis, IT forensics, and cryptanalysis, i.e. decrypting data.

“A CTF tournament tests a wide spectrum of knowledge in the security of ICT networks and computing. This works to enhance the contributors’ skills, and our all team work in IT security positions,” Mr Bukowski says.


The Polish team is made up of staff of established tech companies, including Google and CodiLime. Mr Bukowski works for CERT Polska (Computer Emergency Response Team), a task force set up to respond to threats to the web security of Polish users and institutions. CERT Polska operates as part of NASK (Research and Academic Computer Network), a research institute that among other things registers domain names. NASK together with the University of Warsaw provided support to the winning team, which has enabled it to travel to tournaments.

“Coming first in a CTF tournament means a tremendous success that proves top skills of Polish cybersecurity specialists. We, the NASK’s research institute, are proud to be able to support the team,” comments Piotr Kijewski, a manager at CERT Polska. “The human factor is one of the key elements that influence the degree of IT security. High-level specialists, who can quickly and professionally counter cyber threats, are without doubt the most valuable resources for any economy,” emphasises Mr Kijewski.

One of the most recent achievements of CERT Polska specialists involves the world’s first guide to combating cyber crime. The document has been prepared at the request from the European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA), and is addressed to government and national teams that investigate network security breaches.