NY’s Most-promising Cyber Defenders Get Expert Training

New York’s brightest cyber defenders honed their already razor-sharp security skills last week at New York State Cyber Camp held on Polytechnic Institute of NYU’s downtown Brooklyn campus. The five-day training camp culminated in a Capture the Flag competition on Friday, July 30, where Christopher Ashby (SUNY Excelsior), Griffith Chaffee (Rochester Institute of Technology), Alex Levinson (Rochester Institute of Technology), and Michael Matonis (SUNY Cobleskill) took home first place.

The New York State Office of Cyber Security (OCS) designed Cyber Camp as part of the U.S. Cyber Challenge program to help cultivate and develop an expanded cadre of cyber security professionals who will protect, detect, respond, and recover from cyber attacks. Cyber attacks are increasingly easier to launch, can be deployed from almost anywhere, require relatively minimal resources, and are difficult to attribute to a source. New York State, the nation, and the world are depending on the know-how of participants like those at Cyber Camp to confront these enormous challenges.

OCS selected NYU-Poly’s Brooklyn campus to host the camp because of its nationally recognized master’s degree program in cyber security.

“NYU-Poly was pleased to host New York’s most promising talent in the field of cyber security,” said Dr. Nasir Memon, head of NYU-Poly’s cyber security program and its National Science Foundation-funded Information Systems and Internet Security Lab. “NYU-Poly was one of the earliest schools to introduce a cyber security program, receiving National Security Agency (NSA) approval nearly a decade ago. We have watched the demand for highly educated specialists grow every year, as the sophistication of cyber criminals grows, as well. Programs such as the U.S. Cyber Challenge identify the young people who will help keep our digital infrastructure safe and encourage them to persist through the rigorous education that will be required.”

Cyber Camp’s 16 attendees, including NYU-Poly’s own Julian Cohen, a computer science major entering his sophomore year this fall, won an online Security Treasure Hunt to earn their spots at the camp. The online hunt was open to New York State residents and college students age 18 and over.

"The camp provided great training and exposure to a number of critical topics in cyber security, as well as valuable one-on-one time with industry experts and other information assurance professionals," explained Efstratios Gavas, an NYU-Poly computer science PhD student who helped organize the weeklong camp.

“Campers” participated in lectures and labs led by SANS Institute and other industry experts. The sessions focused on a variety of security topics, including forensics, incident response, and reverse engineering. Attendees also went to a job/scholarship fair where they met with representatives from public and private sector organizations where cyber security expertise is needed.

Campers who are accepted and admitted to NYU-Poly’s master’s program in cyber security will receive a $5,000 scholarship.