RedTedTem Members Participate in CyberBoat Challenge, Win CTF Competition


Sophia Kraus, left

MTU RedTeam members Sophia Kraus (Electrical Engineering) and Josh Stiebel (Computer Engineering) were among about 20 Michigan Tech students who participated in the first-ever CyberBoat Challenge, hosted by the Great Lake Research Center (GLRC) May 23-25, 2022. CyberAuto and CyberTruck challenges also took place. A number of universities also participated, including Northern Michigan, Colorado State University, and the University of Colorado Colorado Springs.

At the start of the event, Kraus and Stiebel placed first in a capture the flag (CTF) competition focused on manipulating bus traffic on a maritime test bench.

Working with industry partners and other universities, the Challenge aims to help answer the workforce demand for professionals able to respond to maritime cybersecurity challenges.
Event sponsors included the national Smart Ships Coalition, headquartered at the GLRC, and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC).

Instructors from Fathom 5, Assured Information Security, GRIMM, and Colorado State University presented hands-on instruction regarding marine systems, software reverse engineering, security assessments, and the SAE J1939 protocol for communications.

The students also learned the fundamentals of Controller Area Network communications protocols and the legal, and the ethical and moral responsibilities of work in the transportation sector.

The Challenge included three days of intensive hacking into navigational and operational systems, including making the boat run aground using hardware, software, and system reverse engineering. Students also had the opportunity to interface with marine systems on the water.

WJMH TV, Channel 3, Marquette, Mi, covered the CyberBoat Challenge on May 25. Read the article here.


The CyberBoat Challenge embraces twin, co-equal goals: to help excite and train the next generation workforce within the transportation cyber domain by providing engaging, hands-on training and close contact with industry professionals; and to foster a community of interest regarding maritime cybersecurity practices amongst the professionals. The CyberBoat Challenge will return to the GLRC next year.