Social media giant Facebook has released a new platform that it hopes will encourage the next generation of computer users to learn security skills.

The Capture the Flag (CTF) platform will be released to the open-source community in an attempt to make security education better and easier to access, writes Charlie Osborne for ZDNet.

Facebook To Teach Kids How To Hack

Facebook releases training tool for hackers

An announcement on the plans was made Wednesday, and Gulshan Singh, a software engineer on Facebook’s threat infrastructure team, said that the social media behemoth wants to make “security education easier and more accessible,” particularly for students.

The release of the CTF platform will provide a “safe and legal” way for the next generation to learn and practice their hacking skills. They will be able to engage in activities related to reverse-engineering, forensics, web application security, cryptography, and binary exploitation without attracting unwanted attention from security forces.

As it stands there are very few CTF environments available online, as it is rare for schools to build their own. There are however some websites designed to challenge professionals to prove their hacking skills, such as Hack this site.org.

Myriad possibilities for Capture the Flag

Aside from those websites there are few resources for students to test their skills in a safe way. For this reason Facebook has released CTF with certain features already in place, but with code available for developers to make their own challenges.

CTF will have backend requirements built in, such as game map, team registration and scoring. However there is plenty of scope for people to make their own add-ons.

“By open sourcing our platform, schools, student groups, and organizations across all skill levels can now host competitions, practice sessions, and conferences of their own to teach computer science and security skills,” Facebook says. “We’re also releasing a small repository of challenges that can be used immediately upon request (to prevent cheating).”

Schools, educators and those with an interest in cybersecurity can now get hold of Capture the Flag on GitHub. CTF makes use of other open-source Facebook projects, such as HHVM and Flow.

Now there is no need for aspiring security professionals to run the risk of getting into trouble with the law as they hone their skills.