Capture the Flag (CTF) competitions train participants in information security and technical skills, including things like encryption and reverse engineering. Facebook recently open-sourced its own CTF platform so you can test and develop your hacking skills. According to Facebook's blog post:
The current set of challenges include problems in reverse-engineering, forensics, web application security, cryptography, and binary exploitation. You can also build your own challenges to use with the Facebook platform for a customised competition.
Not only do CTFs have the ability to teach more technical skills than you'll get in an average computer science program, they can also help you break into the security industry. When I started looking for full-time positions, I found security job interviews to be a lot like CTF challenges, which made it easier for me to demonstrate my technical skills -- - and I was able to make an impact from day one.
To install the platform (source code on GitHub), you'll need to be running Ubuntu 14.04. Facebook's CTF will take care of the maps, team registration and scoring. Hacking competitions can involve as few as two participants to several hundred participants, locally networked or online.
Schools, student groups and others who lack the resources to host their own CTF sessions will likely find this a valuable resource. If you're a participant playing Capture the Flag, you'll learn about exploits and, most importantly, defences for those attacks.