Ghost in the Shellcode is an annual capture-the-flag contest that takes place every winter -- generally in January, but sometimes in February. The contest previously was hosted live from the ShmooCon Hacker Convention in Washington, DC. Since 2012, the contest has been available online to all competitors.

Next Contest

Ghost in the Shellcode VII
8-9 January 2016 Postponed
New Date: TBA


30 December 2015
Ghost in the Shellcode 2016 has been postponed. Sorry everyone! We'll announce a new date later this year.

25 September 2015
Ghost in the Shellcode 2016 will commence on 8 January 2016! The competition will be hosted fully online and will be open to all competitors. Stay tuned for more updates!

18 January 2015
Game is over! Top 3 are PPP, Samurai, and KAIST GON. More detailed scores to follow.

16 January 2015
Game is live at and Pwn Adventure 3.

4 January 2015
More information on Pwn Adventure 3 has been posted.

14 December 2014
This year's teaser is over! Congratulations to PPP! Final scores are available here. The archived teaser round is available here.

13 December 2014
2015 Teaser is live!

12 December 2014
Ghost in the Shellcode 2015 was announced as one of the 6 pre-qualifying events for the Defcon 23 CTF Finals. This is the third year we've been a pre-qualifier!

Contest Details

Ghost in the Shellcode is a jeopardy-style capture-the-flag competition. The contest features many pwnables, binary reverse engineering, and crypto challenges. Sometimes all at once. We've been known to release forensics, networking, and web guessing challenges as well, but those aren't guaranteed. You should also expect some mild-emulator development, alternate-architecture exploitation, and shellcoding challenges.

Some details about Ghost in the Shellcode:

Choose Your Pwn Adventure 3

How do you top the world's first hacking CTF played live in an actual custom CTF/MMORPG? By doing it again, and even better! We've even got a dedicated website at where you can find out more information about this new world of Pwnie Island, this time a true open-world game, with more challenges unique to game hacking.

Choose Your Pwn Adventure 2

For our fifth year (in January 2014), we released Choose Your Pwn Adventure 2. A custom 3D MMOFPS based on the Unity game engine. The game included several quests that were only solvable by modifying the game client.

Client downloads for Choose Your Pwn Adventure 2 are here: Windows - Mac - Linux
Server binaries for Choose Your Pwn Adventure 2 are here so you can run your own!

Several write-ups exist: 1, 2, 3, 4. 2015 will be even more impressive.


Originally called the Warmup, the Ghost in the Shell Teaser round is an short contest that runs each year between the last ShmooCon ticket sale and the conference itself. The winner of the teaser is awarded at least 1 sold-out ShmooCon ticket.

The Teaser round's details differ slightly from other contests:

The teaser round generally runs for between 12 and 24 hours. Like all GitS contests, there is no pre-registration.

Participation in the teaser is not required to participate in the full competition. They are completely separate.


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