Cheat detection

Whenever a challenge is solved, a cheatScore between 0 and 1 is internally assigned to the solution. This indicates how likely the challenge solution has been achieved with cheating.

Cheat detection log entries

Cheat score calculation

The calculation curently relies only on the time difference between current and previous solve in relation to the difficulty of the current challenge. The cheat score also factors in if hints and/or tutorials are enabled or disabled on the Score Board.

Challenge Difficulty Minimum solve time w/o hints w/ tutorial
2 minutes +1 min ÷2
⭐⭐ 4 minutes +2 min ÷2
⭐⭐⭐ 6 minutes +3 min ÷2
⭐⭐⭐⭐ 8 minutes +4 min n/a
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 10 minutes +5 min n/a
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 12 minutes +6 min n/a

The underlying formula assumes that a non-cheating user requires a certain absolute minimum amount of time to solve hacking challenges. It is important to note, that this does not imply that you are expected to only need this minimum minutes for a challenge of certain difficulty.

Coupled challenges

The cheat scoring takes into account that some challenges will be solved in the same HTTP request, for example:

  • logging in the admin user with his weak password solves logging in the admin by any means (e.g. SQL Injection), too
  • both XXE challenge automatically solve using a deprecated B2B interface
  • the generic null byte challenge is typically solved along with the first actual exploit to access some sensitive file from /ftp

To avoid false positive cheat scoring, the second of two coupled challenge solves will never count as cheating when they happen in sequence.

Trivial challenges

Some challenges are so frequently solved by accident or coincident, that it would be unfair to take them into account for cheat scoring at all. This includes:

  • triggering any kind of error that is improperly handled by the application, which if often solved as a by-product of solving other challenges
  • reading the privacy policy of the shop, which is merely a challenge making fun of the fact that almost nobody reads those in real life

Coding challenges

For coding challenges the cheat score is also calculated based on expected solving time since the previous solved hacking or coding challenge. As the difficulty of a hacking challenge does not necessarily correlate with its associated coding challenge, the cheat score formulas are based on different criteria.

"Find It" cheat score calculation

The cheat score to find the vulnerable line(s) of code in the given code snippet is based on the length of that code snippet and the number of lines that need to be selected as the correct answer.

Snippet length Minimum solve time # vulnerable lines
up to 1000 characters 1 minutes ×#
up to 2000 characters 2 minutes ×#
up to 3000 characters 3 minutes ×#
up to 4000 characters 4 minutes ×#

For the Score Board coding challenge the expected solve time is reduced by 50% if the Hacking Instructor is enabled, as there is a Coding Challenges tutorial attached to it.

"Fix It" cheat score calculation

The cheat score to detect the right fix for an identified vulnerability depends only on the number of provided fix choices.

Provided choices Minimum solve time
3 1 minute
4 2 minutes
5 2 minutes
6 3 minutes

Please note that Juice Shop does not allow coding challenges with less than 3 fix options to choose from.

Total cheat score

The server also keeps track of the average cheatScore across all solved challenges in the totalCheatScore which is available via the juiceshop_cheat_score metric but also sent in each Challenge solution webhook call. The totalCheatScore value is not persisted across server restarts, but its calculation is also not irritated by automatic or manual restoring of hacking progress.

An example of the totalCheatScore metric can be seen below:

# HELP juiceshop_cheat_score Overall probability that any hacking or coding challenges were solved by cheating.
# TYPE juiceshop_cheat_score gauge
juiceshop_cheat_score{app="juiceshop"} 0.1201909090909091

The following values for totalCheatScore were measured during activities that are definitely considered cheating while solving the available hacking challenges:

  • >89% after executing all Integration tests in <1 minute on the author's Windows 10 laptop
  • >90% after executing all End-to-end tests in <20 minutes during GitHub CI/CD on Ubuntu


The cheat scoring assumes that a single user is hacking the Juice Shop instance. If the application is used by a team, the values need to be considered less reliable, as extra solve speed might come from parallelization of challenges across team members. Similarly, experienced Juice Shop users will also solve challenges faster than a new user, so their speed is likely to trigger cheat detection as well.

If the Juice Shop instance is under the control of the user, any cheat score it reports via Prometheus or Webhook cannot be trusted at all.

All in all, the cheat score should never blindly be used as a tool to caution or sanction somebody. Vice versa a low score should also never blindly be used to determine monetary rewards etc.

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