phoenix_icons phoenix_icons Filter

CyberTaipan FAQ

Frequently asked questions about the CyberTaipan competition.

CyberTaipan is a competition for teams of Australian students aged 12-18 years. Teams play a series of online qualifying rounds, challenging them to learn about networking, cyber defence and cyber security. Each team competes in a series of online competition rounds by fixing vulnerabilities, hardening systems, and performing other tasks.

Teams compete for a six consecutive-hour period on the Friday, Saturday or Sunday dates designated for each online round. This six consecutive-hour period begins when the team's first virtual machine image is opened. Teams should not compete outside of these competition windows, as the scoring server is unavailable to receive team scores.

All rounds of competition in CyberTaipan, with the exception of the National Finals, take place online. Teams may compete from any location.

Please note: Dates will be updated in January 2021

Competition Round 1  7 – 9 August 2020
Competition hours are from 9.00am - 5.00pm (local time) on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
All teams compete with the final results sent to team coaches and released on the leaderboard.

Competition Round 2  28– 30 August 2020
Competition hours are from 9.00am - 5.00pm (local time) on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
All teams compete with final results sent to team coaches and released on the leaderboard.

All rounds of competition in CyberTaipan, with the exception of the National Finals, take place online. Teams may compete from any location: their school, organisation, or a public library. Competition rounds take place during the specified times above. Decisions around the format of the National Finals are still being made and will depend on social distancing requirements and health regulations in place at the time.

No. Teams must complete all challenges during one, consecutive period for each round of competition. Teams are given a maximum of six hours to complete each round during the scheduled competition days. The six hour window to complete the round begins as soon as the competition image is opened.

It is up to coaches and students to determine how they will structure their time, when they will take breaks etc. Completing the competition training images will give a good indication of how much time your team/s will require to complete the images.

The CyberTaipan competition is cumulative and the challenges increase in difficulty as the teams progress through the rounds.Teams can choose to participate in just one round however, this will impact their overall score and their likelihood of qualifying for the National Finals.

Each CyberTaipan team must consist of between two and six competitors enrolled in the participating school, organisation or community group.

While up to six students are permitted on each team's roster, a maximum of five students are permitted to compete at any one time during a competition round. To be a competitor, students must be over the age of 12 years old and under the age of 18 years on or before the registration deadline.

CyberTaipan is closed to university teams. Cyber Security Challenge Australia (CysCA) offers alternative competitions for university students.

Anyone in the Australia that meets the age requirements and has the correct team format is welcome to participate.

A maximum of five students can access the competition image at any one time during a competition round. While swaps can be conducted at any point during the competition round, adhering to the maximum of five students, the substitute cannot assist the active competitors. Competitors are also only permitted to compete on one team during a CyberTaipan season.

CyberTaipan parental consent forms are available to download. Forms must be completed by both the participating student and their guardian.

Please scan and email completed consent forms to cybertaipan@csiro.au.

Yes. Whether your team/s are competing remotely or face-to-face, the team coach or team assistant must be present for the entire six hours to supervise students.

Teams wishing to compete in the scored rounds will normally pay a fee of AUD$200 per team, this covers the costs of participant packs.

In light of COVID-19 disruptions to the competition, this fee will be waived for 2020.

There are no restrictions on the number of teams a coach can register. This is largely determined by the whether or not the coach feels comfortable supervising and assisting multiple teams during competition rounds. If a coach has more than five teams, they will need to submit multiple team registration forms.

Coaches act as the primary contact for their teams and are responsible for collection of consent forms, administering the challenge and distributing logins. However, coaches are welcome to have a team assistant help with supervision of students on the day of competition.

Team assistant(s) are defined on page 5 of the CyberTaipan Rulebook as:

Team assistants are adult volunteers who provide non-technical support and encouragement to the team, such as assisting with scheduling, set-up, snacks, and transportation. Team assistants are required to register on the CyberTaipan website and successfully complete a Working with Children Check (or equivalent) before being added to the list of approved assistants.

We recommend students go through the training modules and complete the training images ahead of the competition rounds. Links to download the training images will be sent to coaches once they have registered.

The modules and training images contain the types of vulnerabilities and issues they will need to resolve during the competition. The modules run through different defensive techniques and provide activities for students which will prepare them for competition rounds, expose them to different operating systems, and familiarise them with competition conditions.

Yes, mentors can assist students with the CyberTaipan modules and training images ahead of the competition.

Mentors are not, however, permitted to assist during competition rounds.

Page six of the CyberTaipan Rulebook outlines the system used to score the competition.

Cyberpatriot Competition System (CCS)
CCS is an internet-dependent competition system used for the online competition rounds. CCS uses a client‑based scoring system based on scored security vulnerabilities that are fixed, remediated, or identified in an image. It is possible to reduce a score if a fix to one vulnerability undoes a previous fix, or if a team is assessed a penalty for an action that makes a system less secure or conflicts with the scenario for that round. Points lost to penalties can be recovered by way of corrective action.
Not all vulnerabilities in an image are scored.

Virtual machine image (image)
CCS scores teams on their discovery and remediation of vulnerabilities in an image. A CyberTaipan image is a simulated operating system played on virtual machine player that contains scoring software. Specific operating system image types will be released before the competition rounds.

Further to this, competition structure and advancement on page seven of the rulebook, states:

Competition structure and advancement
The ten highest scoring teams, averaged across the two scored online rounds, will be invited to compete in the National Finals competition.
If teams have a tied score that affects their advancement to the National Finals, the following tiebreakers will be used to resolve the tie in order:

  • Highest total Round 2 score
  • Fastest time to the team’s Round 2 score. CCS scoring server time is the official time.

Yes. As the competition is online, students who are learning remotely during COVID-19 can still participate.

Remote competitors can use existing school or organisational software to communicate during competition rounds. Otherwise, the CyberTaipan team can arrange for a Webex to be set up for competitors to use during competition rounds.

Once a competition period begins coaches, mentors, team assistants, competitors on other teams, and other non-team members shall not coach, assist, collaborate, or advise competitors until the completion of the competition period.

No outside assistance on page three of the Rulebook states:
Competitors are responsible for their own team’s performance during the competition and may not receive or request assistance outside of their team’s competitors. Once a competition period begins coaches, mentors, team assistants, competitors on other teams, and other non-team members shall not coach, assist, collaborate, or advise competitors until the completion of the competition period. Competitors on a team who are not competing (i.e.substitute) may observe the competition. They shall not advise or assist the team or be advised on the competition by coaches, mentors, or non-team members until the competition period has ended.

Outside assistance includes direct and indirect advice, suggestions, hands-on assistance, and electronic communication such as email, blogs, forums, and other social media platforms. That is, questions may not be posted to any website. However, pre-existing answers to questions may be queried to address issues encountered during the competition.

Coaches, mentors, and team assistants may only assist teams with:

  1. Administrative issues before the image is opened
  2. Entering the Unique Identifier and other login credentials
  3. Timekeeping
  4. Local area network outages and other connectivity issues that occur outside the competition image
  5. Issues with the host system unrelated to the competition image itself
  6. Dangerous or threatening situations that require adult intervention
  7. Maintaining teams’ saved scoring data at the end of the competition period
  8. Ensuring no sharing between competing teams
  9. Internet access

Internet resources are permitted as long as they are publicly and freely accessible. Resources that require a subscription or payment to access may pose an unfair advantage over other teams.Online checksum calculators or decoders are permitted. Resources must not be specifically created for the CyberTaipan competition or any event using CyberTaipan or CyberPatriot software. Teams cannot prepare bespoke software applications specifically for the competition ahead of the competition rounds.

Page 15 of the Rulebook, lists permitted resources:

1. Internet resources
During competition rounds, internet resources (e.g. FAQs, how-to guides, existing discussion forums, company websites, documentation, software, shell scripts, batch files, registry exports) are valid for competition use under the following conditions:

  • The resource is free, and access has not been granted based on a previous fee, membership, employment, purchase, credit card, or other monetary instrument.
  • No token, smart card, common access card, etc., is required to access it.
  • The resource is publicly and reasonably available to all teams.
  • The resource must not be specifically created for the CyberTaipan competition or any event using CyberTaipan software.
  • Use of any resources created by other teams or by coaches, mentors, or team assistants is a violation of this rule.

2. Printed material
Printed or handwritten reference materials (books, magazines, checklists, etc.) are permitted in competition spaces. Competitors shall choose and collect their team’s printed material for the competition round WITHOUT the assistance of coaches, mentors, other teams’ competitors, or non‑competitors. Competitors are not required to reprint existing material.

3. Electronic media and communication devices
Coaches shall ensure that their teams compete without outside assistance through electronic media or communication devices. The following stipulations apply to this rule.

Electronic media
Because inconsistent internet connections among teams may cause a competitive disadvantage, electronic media as defined below may be used in the online competition rounds under the following conditions:

  • Permitted electronic media is defined as memory sticks, flash drives, removable drives, CD-ROMs, or other similar storage devices.
  • Media must be prepared by a team’s competitors. Coaches, mentors, other teams, and non-competitors shall not prepare a team’s electronic media. 

Authorised documents and data

  • Patches, updates, and other internet resources and software tools authorised in the ‘Software Tools’ paragraph in this document are permitted on electronic media.

Offline copy of online resources

  • A team may use an offline copy (on electronic media) of an otherwise freely available internet resource, subject to the same definitions and restrictions as promulgated in this document.

Communication devices
Cell phones, smartphones, and other wireless or wired devices are allowed in the competition space:

  • You can communicate among your own team members.
  • You can communicate or monitor social media as you like.
  • You cannot communicate with any source which may give you an advantage in the competition.
  • Answering and making personal calls, texting, etc., shall be done outside of the competition space.
  • The devices shall not be used to send, receive, or obtain competition information.

Software tools
Competitors shall set up and use software tools without outside assistance. Internet resource conditions also apply to software tools.

  • The tool must be searchable on the public internet with search engines. ALL internet users have access to the tool(s).
  • Teams using other software tools that do not meet competition technical specifications compete at their own risk.
  • Teams should not delete, disable, or tamper with anything.
  • Furthermore, they should ensure that any antivirus or antimalware software that is installed on competition images does not interfere with this folder or service.
  • Ask for permission.

Posting or publicising resources
Publicly posting, distributing, or otherwise publicising scripts, software, or other resources that were created for the CyberTaipan competition or events involving CyberTaipan software is prohibited.

Resources can be shared among students in the same team via an online drives where needed. The resources themselves must be publicly and freely accessible, but this stipulation does not apply to online drives or school cloud services (paid or unpaid).

Page 15-16 of the CyberTaipan Rulebook, states:

Internet resources
During competition rounds, internet resources (e.g. FAQs, how-to guides, existing discussion forums, company websites, documentation, software, shell scripts, batch files, registry exports) are valid for competition use under the following conditions:

  • The resource is free, and access has not been granted based on a previous fee, membership, employment, purchase, credit card, or other monetary instrument.
  • No token, smart card, common access card, etc., is required to access it.
  • The resource is publicly and reasonably available to all teams.
  • The resource must not be specifically created for the CyberTaipan competition or any event using CyberTaipan software.
  • Use of any resources created by other teams or by coaches, mentors, or team assistants is a violation of this rule.

Electronic media and communication devices
Coaches shall ensure that their teams compete without outside assistance through electronic media or communication devices. The following stipulations apply to this rule.

Electronic media
Because inconsistent internet connections among teams may cause a competitive disadvantage, electronic media as defined below may be used in the online competition rounds under the following conditions:

  • Permitted electronic media is defined as memory sticks, flash drives, removable drives, CD-ROMs, or other similar storage devices.
  • Media must be prepared by a team’s competitors. Coaches, mentors, other teams, and non-competitors shall not prepare a team’s electronic media. 

Authorised documents and data

  • Patches, updates, and other internet resources and software tools authorised in the ‘Software Tools’ paragraph in this document are permitted on electronic media.

Offline copy of online resources

  • A team may use an offline copy (on electronic media) of an otherwise freely available internet resource, subject to the same definitions and restrictions as promulgated in this document.

Communication devices
Cell phones, smartphones, and other wireless or wired devices are allowed in the competition space:

  • You can communicate among your own team members.
  • You can communicate or monitor social media as you like.
  • You cannot communicate with any source which may give you an advantage in the competition.
  • Answering and making personal calls, texting, etc., shall be done outside of the competition space.
  • The devices shall not be used to send, receive, or obtain competition information.

Software tools
Competitors shall set up and use software tools without outside assistance. Internet resource conditions also apply to software tools.

  • The tool must be searchable on the public internet with search engines. ALL internet users have access to the tool(s).
  • Teams using other software tools that do not meet competition technical specifications compete at their own risk.
  • Teams should not delete, disable, or tamper with anything.
  • Furthermore, they should ensure that any antivirus or antimalware software that is installed on competition images does not interfere with this folder or service.
  • Ask for permission.