Shell on the Border, a cybersecurity tournament with Bitcoin rewards, is set to take place Jan. 26-28 at the Propak event space, 1100 Garrison Ave., in downtown Fort Smith.

Organizers of the event call it a “cyberpunk spectacle designed to foster a culture of tech-curious problem solvers in Fort Smith.”

The “shell” in this wild west reference to Fort Smith refers to a computer’s administration interface. The event will be free to observe and attend workshops, but competition entry fees are $300 for teams of four or $80 for single players. More information can be found at

The event is the brainchild and venture of Fort Smith’s 2600 Hackers Club Meet-up. Team leaders include Eli McRae, offensive cyberspace operations instructor for the 223rd Cyber Operations Unit and founder of Fort Smith’s 2600 Hacker Meet-up; Kenneth Moon, IT system administrator at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Arkansas; and Colin Burton, senior network administrator at Rheem Manufacturing.

Shell on the Border features a “capture the flag” challenge and various security workshops. A “CTF” hacking tournament is an information security competition where teams race to solve cyber puzzles to acquire digital flags, usually a predefined file or string of text. The team that acquires the most flags in a set time are the champions. The challenges are divided by category with puzzles of increasing difficulty ranging from networking, coding, cryptography, web application hacking, brainteasers, and real-life immersive geolocated puzzles in the downtown area.

All contenders will be provided meals, snacks, and drinks from local food trucks, restaurants and coffee shops. The event’s workshops are free, open to the public and range in topics from Bitcoin, basic hacking, and a hands-on “lock picking” classes.

“This year's keynote will be about the importance of education in cyber security and the current and future threats we face,” a news release adds. “On the internet we are all equal though our attack surface is not. We must learn to minimize this surface and defend ourselves with the competence of a large city. We hope by nurturing our community in the ways of the hacker, to be better critical thinkers and problem solvers, our thought leadership becomes an example to other small towns across America not ready for the next generations of cyber attacks.”