Puzzle-based training for a wide range of audiences

Cyber Fire Puzzles is a drop-in or dedicated contest-style event suitable for a wide range of abilities and expertise.

While the bulk of our events are run at colleges, they are also very popular at the middle school and high school levels, as well as at professional events such as cybersecurity conferences.

Participants work through puzzles in a number of categories selected by staff to target the attendees and duration of the event. Staff then help participants one-on-one with whatever each participant encounters as a sticking point in their personal (or team) progress through our content.

Puzzle categories cover computer forensics, cryptography, mathematics, general computer science, and more.

A college student holds a laptop diagonally in the air, while a second student looks tries to work through the puzzle on the screen.


Puzzles events work best in rooms where participants can work together. We've run in classrooms, banquet halls, and computer labs.

Each participant needs:

  • A computer with Internet access and a web browser: many participants bring their own laptop
  • Someplace to plug a computer in if the battery won't last for the whole event
  • A place to sit down
  • Scratch paper and a pen or pencil
  • Restroom and drinking water access

We need:

  • A projector
  • Internet access
  • A computer with a web browser (we can bring our own)

Puzzles events typically run between 4 and 16 hours, although we have run events as short as 2 hours, and as long as 5 days.


We have run for groups from twenty (20) to six hundred (600). Groups under 40 can be run by a single staff member.

Cost: Free!

Puzzles events are part of DOE's cybersecurity talent pipeline. We are funded run a number of puzzles events throughout the year at no cost to hosting institutions.

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High School Puzzles

High School events usually run 2-4 hours and cover the following topics:

  • Introduction to cryptanalysis (frequency analysis, guessed plaintext attacks)
  • Counting in numerical radices (hexadecimal, octal, binary, etc.)
  • Steganography
  • Other topics available from our dozens of categories

Collegiate Puzzles

College-level events usually run between 4 hours and 2 days, and cover the following topics:

  • Forensic cybersecurity incident investigation
  • Protocol and file format cleanroom reverse-engineering
  • JavaScript deobfuscation
  • Password cracking / custom brute-force attack generation
  • Other topics available from our dozens of categories

Sister Events

Cyber Force Logo

CyberForce Competition, one of our sister events, gives college students a more in-depth attack/defend contest that runs nationwide.

CyberForce Site