A cybersecurity high school student competition designed by students, for students.

CanHack is the Canadian category of picoCTF, a free online cybersecurity competition developed and run by Carnegie Mellon University. The game features a series of digital challenges based on unique storylines.

Register below!  

Cybersecurity in today’s digital age.

In today’s digital world, understanding cybersecurity matters more now than ever before. The DMZ at Ryerson University, in partnership with the Royal Bank of Canada, have come together to launch CanHack - a cybersecurity student competition. Participants will learn critical computer security skills, work with experts in the field and have an opportunity to win up to $16,250 in cash prizes.

How it works

CanHack is divided into 60+ specific challenges spread across four levels, each advancing the story and increasing in difficulty. No experience, nor expertise is necessary and there is nothing to download!

  • Level One: Designed to challenge students’ critical thinking skills.
  • Level Two: Designed to challenge students through introductory computer programming.
  • Level Three: Designed to challenge students with a strong background in computer programming.
  • Level Four: A diverse set of problems across all categories, ranging from difficult to professional.

Participants must reverse engineer, break, hack, decrypt, or do whatever it takes to solve the problem statement. At the end of the challenge, students will walk away with a basic understanding of cybersecurity systems and:

Explore new careers

Leverage our up-to-date digital learning tools to teach the latest tech skills. Introduce students to career possibilities that exist in the growing cybersecurity field and computer science sector.

Access complimentary educational tools

Access industry approved supplies, lesson plans and guides that cover everything from coding to computational skills in order to create a well-rounded experiential learning opportunities.

Learn cybersecurity skills

Establish basic digital literacy, cybersecurity and privacy skills by providing hands-on learning for students and introduce them to experts in the field.

Prizes for top 3 teams

1st place: $2,000
2nd place: $1,000
3rd place: $750

Prizes for top 3 schools

1st place: $3,000
2nd place: $2,000
3rd place: $1,000

New this year

Top-All Female Team - $2,000

New For CanHack 2021

In partnership with our game partners Carnegie Mellon University, CanHack which has traditionally run each fall will now be run in the spring semester, hence the March dates for CanHack 2021.

We believe that all students should have equal access to educational resources.

In an effort to increase program accessibility Canada-wide (and plan around COVID-19), we’re taking CanHack virtual this year with all workshops and sessions available online for students and teachers to engage with. In coordination with proper health and safety guidelines we anticipate to run in person and virtual workshops in Fall 2020.

In addition, we are running female only workshops in Fall 2020 on a number of cybersecurity topics to support females in STEAM.

Awards criteria

In order to participate students must adhere to the following criteria:

  • Be enrolled at a Canadian high school
  • Apply individually or with a team consisting of no more than five students
  • Be registered by a teacher or adult supervisor

There is no fee to participate and students can sign up to compete until October 11, 2019. There is no limit to the number of teams that can represent a single school, and members do not have to attend the same school.

*Students and teams that do not meet these requirements can still participate, but will not be eligible to win contest prizes. Please see competition rules for details.

Ready to put your skills to the test?

Canhack 2019 officially goes live on September 27th. Registering below will confirm your entry into the competition. Please note, on September 13th at 12:00pm (noon) you must still register your team on the game site at picoctf.com.

How to register (teachers/supervisor):

Step 1:
Register as a Supervisor for CanHack 2019 by filling out this form.

Step 2:
Register at picoCTF.com, download and complete their excel sheet, fill out the blanks on participating students. How to do this? Check out Page 13 of our CanHack Guidebook!

Step 3:
Head back over to the CanHack website and submit that same excel sheet to officially register. This can be done here.

Step 4:
Register for the Piazza platform where all participating students can receive help navigating through the challenge from our 20+ cyber security focused mentors. This can be done here.
(please share this link with your students!)

Program timeline

August 25th - September 13th, 2019:   Pre-register for Canhack
September 13th, 2019:   Registration opens at picoctf.com
September 26th, 2019:   CanHack Kickoff Event, register here
September 27th, 2019:   Game goes live at 12:00pm EST!
October 11th, 2019:   CanHack 2019 challenge ends
November 28, 2019:   CanHack Cyber Expo Day + Awards Ceremony


National partner

The Royal Bank of Canada (RBC)

RBC is a global financial institution with a purpose-driven, principles-led approach to delivering leading performance. Our success comes from the 81,000+ employees who bring our vision, values and strategy to life so we can help our clients thrive and communities prosper. As Canada’s biggest bank, and one of the largest in the world based on market capitalization, we have a diversified business model with a focus on innovation and providing exceptional experiences to our 16 million clients in Canada, the U.S. and 34 other countries.

University partner

Rogers Cybersecure Catalyst empowers Canadians and Canadian businesses to seize the opportunities and tackle the challenges of cybersecurity. We do this through training and certification, commercial acceleration and support for cyber scale-ups, applied research and development, public education, and policy development. Based in Brampton, Rogers Cybersecure Catalyst is driven by strong partnerships with industry, government and academia, ensuring Canada's global competitiveness in cybersecurity.

Contributing partners

Carnegie Mellon CyLab is a world leader and a bold and visionary effort, which establishes public-private partnerships to develop new technologies for measurable, secure, available, trustworthy, and sustainable computing and communications systems.
The Toronto Police Service (TPS) is responsible for delivering policing services to a dynamic and diverse community. Its members, uniform police officers and civilians, are dedicated to policing in partnership with our communities to keep Toronto the best and safest place to be. Through the Transformational Task Force, the TPS is undertaking a modernization of its services that will see policing in Toronto be where the public needs the Service the most, embrace partnerships to create safe communities, and focus on the complex needs of a large city.
The DMZ is a leading tech accelerator headquartered in Toronto, Ontario that helps high-potential startups grow and scale to world-class businesses. Also supporting ideation and validation stage startups, the DMZ’s incubator program has been ranked number one in the world by UBI Global. Since 2010, the DMZ has helped 424 startups raise over $715 million and foster more than 3874 jobs.
Ryerson University is Canada’s leader in innovative and career-oriented education. Urban, culturally diverse and inclusive, the university is home to more than 44,600 students, including 2,600 master’s and PhD students, 3,100 faculty and staff, and nearly 185,000 alumni worldwide.
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