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CyberTaipan FAQ

Frequently asked questions about the CyberTaipan competition.

CyberTaipan is an online competition for high school-aged students in Australia.

Throughout several rounds of competition, teams comprising of two to five high school students are provided with a set of virtual images that represent different operating systems. Teams receive points for finding and fixing cyber security vulnerabilities, strengthening systems, and maintaining critical services. Teams compete for a chance to represent their school or community group in the National Final.

Teams compete for a six consecutive-hour period on the Friday, Saturday or Sunday dates designated for each online round. This period begins when the team's first virtual image is opened. Teams are unable to compete outside of these competition windows, as the scoring server is unavailable to receive team scores.

CyberTaipan is open to high school-aged students with an interest in — or willingness to learn about — cyber security, defensive countermeasures and securing virtual networks.

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. This six consecutive-hour period begins when the team's first virtual machine image is opened.

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

  • Competition Round 1 20 – 22 August 2021
    Teams compete for a consecutive six-hour period within 9am-5pm (AEST) between Friday to Sunday.
    All teams compete with the final results sent to team coaches and released on the leaderboard.
  • Competition Round 2 10 – 12 September 2021
    Teams compete for a consecutive six-hour period within 9am-5pm (AEST) between Friday to Sunday.
    All teams compete with the final results sent to team coaches and released on the leaderboard.
  • CyberTaipan 2021 National Final 15 October 2021
    The top ten scoring teams from Round 1 and 2 compete in the National Final to claim the title of CyberTaipan 2021 champions.
  • CyberTaipan 2021 Awards Presentation 20 October 2021
    All participants from Round 1 and 2 are invited to attend this virtual awards ceremony.

All competitors must be high school-aged students within Australia. Each CyberTaipan team must consist of between two and six competitors enrolled in the participating school, organisation or community group. CyberTaipan is closed to university teams.

While up to six competitors are permitted on each team's roster, a maximum of five competitors are permitted to compete at any one time during a competition round (i.e. five competitors plus one reserve competitor). The competitor not competing may act as a substitute and cannot assist the active competitors.

Coaches must notify the CyberTaipan Program Office (cybertaipan@csiro.au) as soon as possible if any prospective team member is aged 18 years or older, or will be turning 18 years old during the course of the competition. In these instances, the student must successfully complete a Working with Children Check (or relevant state equivalent) and a National Police Check before being added to the list of approved team members.

Students are prohibited from participating in CyberTaipan if they have participated in CyberPatriot or in CyberPatriot-affiliated competitions around the world.

While up to six competitors are permitted on each team's roster, a maximum of five competitors are permitted to compete at any one time during a competition round (i.e. five competitors plus one reserve competitor). The competitor not competing may act as a substitute and cannot assist the active competitors.

A team's registered reserve competitor may be substituted for any of the participating competitors at the coach's discretion. A reserve competitor may only be substituted into their registered team; they cannot join any of the other teams from their school or organisation.

A competitor shall compete on only one team during a CyberTaipan season. If a Coach has multiple teams registered for the competition competitors may not be shuffled between teams during and/or between rounds.

Coaches who have successfully registered for CyberTaipan, and who have fulfilled their requirements for a current Working with Children Check (or equivalent) and National Police Check, will be provided with consent forms for students.

Forms must be completed by both the participating student and their guardian and then returned to their coach. These forms will be submitted to the CyberTaipan Program Office by coaches when they officially register their team/s.

Yes. Regardless of whether the team is competing face-to-face or virtually, the coach of a team must be either physically present or actively on the call to supervise and administer all competition rounds.

Due to COVID-19 disruptions, the competition fee has been waived for the 2020 and 2021 competitions.

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.

A competitor shall compete on only one team during a CyberTaipan season. If a Coach has multiple teams registered for the competition competitors may not be shuffled between teams during and/or between rounds.

Coaches act as the primary contact for their teams and are responsible for collection of parental consent forms, supervising and administering the challenge, and distributing competition access details. However, coaches are welcome to have a team assistant help with team-related tasks.

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) and National Police Check 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. These resources will be sent to coaches once they have registered and have fulfilled their requirements for a current Working with Children Check (or equivalent) and National Police Check.

The modules and training images give an indication of the types of vulnerabilities and issues they will need to resolve during the competition. The resources 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.

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 action 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.

CyberTaipan will also provide access to the competition images through a third-party hosting service so that the competition images can be accessed and completed through a web browser.

Competition structure and advancement

The ten highest scoring teams, totalled across the two scored online rounds, will be invited to compete in the live National Final.

When advancing to the National Final, the following tiebreakers (in order) will be used to resolve a tie between two or more teams:

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

Yes. As the competition is conducted online, students who are learning remotely can still participate.

Students competing remotely can use existing school or organisational software to communicate during competition rounds. Otherwise, the CyberTaipan team can arrange for a Webex videoconferencing call to be set up for competitors and their coach 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.

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. sixth member of a team, substitute, reserve) 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 of competition information between competing teams.
  9. Maintaining internet access.