3 things to note about the UNODC Africa Digital Forensics CTF challenge 2022

When a crime is committed on the internet, a different kind of investigation called a digital forensics investigation is carried out which includes several processes and skillset aimed at recovering digital evidence that can be used in a court of law. To promote digital forensics as an important career in the fight against cybercrime in Africa, the United Nations Office on Drugs  and Crimes (UNODC), through the Global Programme on Cybercrime recently organized the 2nd edition of the Africa Digital Forensics challenge after a successful edition in 2021. The competition which was  organized using a ‘capture the flag’ (CTF) scheme, aimed at  testing the technical skills of the growing number of professional digital investigators and individuals interested in the forensics field in Africa. Here are 3 things to note about this year’s edition of the competition.

                 1.Over 1000 people living in Africa registered for the competition

This year was the 2nd edition of the competition, and 1027 eligible people from over 45 countries on the continent registered for the CTF compared to 282 last year, a percentage increase of over 265%, with 21% of them being female. The figures might not seem like much for a continent of more than a billion people, but this turnout revealed the growing interest in the digital forensics field in Africa which lags behind other continents like Europe or North America. It also showed that competitions like this one can help build the popularity of the profession in Africa.

               2.The forensic tasks centered around current cybercrime trends in Africa

The competition this year followed a coherent real-life scenario of online crimes, reflecting several cybercrime trends that participants had to solve. A total of 56 challenge questions were set during the 4 weeks of competition, and the different scenarios ranged from basic electronic evidence search to open-source investigations, dark web investigations and cryptocurrency investigations. To help participants better navigate the challenges, help videos were also made available. 

Participants were also encouraged to work in teams and 149 teams were created during this edition of the competition, these teams submitted a total of 1518 correct answers.

            3.Participants from Egypt, Mauritania and Morocco were the big winners this year

Just like the 2021 edition of the competition, the CTF winners were divided into 2 categories:  individual and teams. At the end of the 4 weeks competition, 3 participants from Egypt, Mauritania and Morocco, emerged as the 1st, 2nd and 3rd placed winners respectively, earning the most points by completing each challenge in the fastest time. While teams from Benin particularly and Rwanda dominated the team category. The participants this year showed skills and knowledge in solving the challenges.

Digital forensics as a profession, particularly in law enforcement, is relatively new to most countries in Africa. However, a good number of skilled practitioners are evolving in this field on the continent. The UNODC Global Programme on Cybercrime with support from its donors provides a platform through the Africa Digital Forensics CTF competition where Africans interested in this can test their skills, learn new trends and build a community. This activity was made possible with support from France, Norway, The Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.