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UNODC Africa Digital Forensic CTF 2023 Official ‘call for registration’ flyer and official ‘top 5 winners’ result flyer

For the third year in a row, the Global Programme on Cybercrime organized the Africa Digital Forensics Challenge. The 3rd edition of the competition organized in a Capture the Flag (CTF) format, brought together over 1000 digital forensic experts and enthusiasts from across the African continent. This year, the competition focused on mobile forensics and according to Ms. Carmen Corbin, Head of Counter Cybercrime Programming for UNODC in Africa, the theme could not be more aligned with the realities of the continent.

“Digital Forensics is the process of identifying, preserving, analysing and documenting digital evidence to be presented in a court of law and more than 60% of people in Africa access the internet through their mobile phones. This means that most digital forensics probes on the continent are done on mobile devices. It was only right that we organize the competition to meet the realities on the ground.”

This year’s Africa Digital Forensics Challenge involved participants investigating hidden pieces of information – like a text or photo – from downloaded datasets provided by the Global Programme on Cybercrime. They had to determine the format and then read the information to find solutions.  The competition, which ran for 2 weeks, aimed to ensure that participants solved as many problems as possible and focused on using real-life scenarios, providing the participants with an opportunity to solve realistic cases, with the scenarios including data from Android and iOS devices. In total, they were 2 datasets with 40 associated questions that participants had to answer.

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UNODC Africa Digital Forensics Challenge 2023 online Award ceremony with Top 5 winners

“This CTF competition has a strong focus on capability-building, particularly in the context of providing the participants with realistic experience. It supports many other goals listed in the UNODC Strategic Vision for Africa 2030, including building and enhancing the roles of local experts, connection making and building and enhancing the roles of women, amongst other goals” said Dr. Amado Philip de Andrès, Regional Representative of UNODC in West and Central Africa, stressing the significant impact of the competition on the digital forensics’ space in Africa.

The 2023 edition of the competition revealed the vast digital forensic skills present on the continent, with people participating from a record-breaking 38 countries across Africa. Participants from Benin dominated the top five. Among them, Michkath Olowolagba (mk15) became the first female participant to make it to the top 5 since the start of the competition in 2021, ranking 3rd. During a short online award ceremony organized on April 20th, she commented: “I am glad to have been able to make it in the top 5. It was my first time ever to participate in the UNODC CTF competition. It was very difficult, but I am happy to have proven that women too can be strong contenders in these kinds of technical challenges.”

Since its launch in 2021, the UNODC Africa Digital Forensic Challenge has provided a platform for Africans working in digital forensics, or interested in the field, to test their skills and connect with like-minded individuals and professionals across the continent.