What is a CTF?
CTF stands for Capture the Flag. In the Cyber Security world this relates to an event where the aim is to hack into systems and find flags to earn points, pride or bragging rights. The flags can be hidden in a multitude of different places and these change from CTF to CTF as does the format of the flag. However, this is usually explained before the event so that they are instantly recognisable once found.
Some good sites to try CTFs include picoctf.com and overthewire.org. The offer many resources for beginners, providing the space to challenge yourself. As you make your way through the task you can learn as you go, picking up new skills. hackthebox.eu has some more advanced challenges that are readily available but there are many other challenges you can compete in. A quick search will bring up helpful videos and sites dedicated to helping you through any challenge where you might get stuck.
CTFs have numerous advantages. Above all the aim is for you to have fun and enjoy solving the challenges. They also give you a good opportunity to learn new skills and test any previously learnt methods in a different environment. Another benefit is each challenge forces you to look a problem in a different way, this allows you to learn from task you have previously completed.
Whether you have dabbled in penetration testing before or have never heard of CTFs, having a go at an CTF event is an opportunity that is welcoming and advantageous.