What's New at CSAW'17

The Countdown Begins to the World’s Largest Student-Run Cybersecurity Competition

Excitement is mounting in the days leading up to Cybersecurity Awareness Week (CSAW) 2017, with a jam-packed conference set to take place here in Brooklyn and at satellite locations around the world — including Abu Dhabi, India, France, and Israel.

Since its launch, in 2003, as a small local competition meant to introduce students to the field, CSAW has grown into a global juggernaut that attracts tens of thousands of participants who vie for scholarships and other prizes in a variety of “games” including Capture the Flag, High School Forensics, and the Embedded Security Challenge.

With CSAW getting bigger and better every year, several fun and exciting developments are being unveiled in 2017.


No Bones about It

High School Forensics is always among the most popular events at CSAW, thanks to the infectious enthusiasm of its young cyber-sleuths. This year, in a spooky twist, 10 teams of U.S. high school students (and one guest team from Canada) will arrive at Tandon’s MakerSpace only to find the skeleton of a murder victim and a single clue scrawled on a piece of paper. Students must then use digital forensics techniques to discover additional evidence and solve the mystery. (Nineteen additional teams will compete at NYU Abu Dhabi and Grenoble-INP Esisar.)

No Sleep ‘Til Brooklyn

Capture the Flag events are a great learning experience, as participants draw upon their knowledge of cryptography, binary analysis, reverse engineering, and more.  While increasing numbers of schools are hosting them, the CTF at CSAW is among the most challenging, with teams working throughout the night in a 36-hour marathon of hacking here in Brooklyn. (NYU Abu Dhabi, IIT Kanpur, and Ben-Gurion University will also be hosting CTF finalist teams, so that’s a lot of hours of lost sleep!)

Fun facts about this year’s teams:
  • For the first time in years, CSAW has an all-female team. Called Travelling Salescow, they hail from Piedmont Hills High School, in San Jose, California.
  • Dos Pueblos High was the birthplace of a Capture the Flag team of the same name. While its members attended high school together, they now all attended different colleges, making them the only CTF team whose members do not attend the same school.
  • If you need proof that tech talent can run in families, look no further than brothers Paul Grosen, a member of the 1064CBread HSF team, and his brother John, who now attends MIT and is on the 1064CBread CTF team.
High School Forensics teams using digital clues to solve a mystery in CSAW 2016

Undergraduates competed for 36 straight hours in the 2016 CSAW Capture the Flag

Beyond Ones and Zeros

The keynote speaker will be Andrew Tannenbaum, chief cybersecurity counsel at IBM (a CSAW gold-level sponsor). He served as a national security counsel during the Bush and Obama administrations, and his talk, “How Future Cybersecurity Leaders Can Save the World,” is sure to be inspiring.

The Power of the Press

For the very first time, CSAW is presenting a Cyber Journalism Award, which recognizes excellence in reporting on cybersecurity issues. (The new competition was a joint project of the NYU Tandon School of Engineering and the NYU Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute.) The winner, who will be honored on Thursday, November 9, following the keynote address, is Andy Greenberg of Wired, for his insightful piece “Lights Out: How An Entire Nation Became Russia's Test Lab for Cyberwar.”

Fun Name, Serious Challenge, Awesome Prize

White-hat hackers have the chance this year to participate in the Red Balloon Hardware Hacking Challenge, sponsored by Red Balloon Security. Whoever successfully reverses the firmware of a VoIP phone the quickest will go home with a drone and a (literal!) sack of cash.

Turning the Career Fair on Its Head

Given the intense competition for information-security talent, companies are now pitching themselves to graduates, rather than the other way around. More than 20 top companies will be represented at the CSAW Industry Fair, hoping to attract the brightest, most creative prospective hires.


Dozens of companies recruited the nation's top young cybersleuths at the 2016 CSAW Industry Fair.

View the CSAW Agenda for details of events happening at NYU Tandon