Carnegie Mellon University

Students from the CMU hacking team posing for a picture at the MITRE eCTF award ceremony.

May 02, 2024

Carnegie Mellon University Hacking Team Secures Third Consecutive Win at MITRE eCTF

By Evan Lybrand

INI Communications

Plaid Parliament of Pwning (PPP), Carnegie Mellon University (CMU)’s hacking team, continued their winning streak by securing their third win at the 2024 MITRE Embedded Capture-the-flag (eCTF) cybersecurity competition. Information Networking Institute (INI) professor Patrick Tague served as a faculty advisor for a team of 13 CMU students, including five INI students, as they took on this year's challenge. 

Each year, teams are challenged to design a security solution for embedded systems inside objects like key fobs or package delivery drones. For this year's competition, teams designed a solution to improve the security of medical devices. Some medical devices rely on microcontrollers, which control a device's specific functions while keeping sensitive information secure.  

mitre_medal.jpgThe competition took place from January 17 to April 17 and consisted of two distinct phases. First, teams developed their microcontroller solutions, which had to securely verify the device's integrity and maintain sensitive data. During the second phase, they attempted to attack the other teams’ designs to test their resistance to malicious actors. 

Quinn Henry, a current INI Masters of Science in Information Security (MSIS) student and member of PPP, shared his experience. “I was able to get hands-on experience with cryptosystem design, secure coding, embedded systems programming, software vulnerability analysis and exposure to hardware-based attacks,” he said. “This competition has provided invaluable practice and development of my technical and project management skills. I will take the skills and experiences I gained in the eCTF competition and enhance my effectiveness in my future career.”  


Team members include: Aditya Desai, Anish Singhani, Carson Swoveland, Sirui (Ray) Haung, Nandan Desai, Quinn Henry, David Rudo, Tongzhou (Thomas) Liao, Akash Arun, Gabriel Zaragoza, Rohan Viswanathan, John Samuels and Andrew Chong. 

Pictured above: 1. MITRE eCTF 1st place trophy. 2. The PPP team at the award ceremony.