Future Cyber Heroes

Cyber Security Awareness Week 2017 Introduced the Best White-Hat Hackers of a New Generation

John Grosen, Massachusetts Institute of Technology ('20), a member of 1064CBread, which won second place in the Capture the Flag competition at NYU Tandon's 14th annual CSAW.

In a weekend filled with excitement, fun, and learning, it’s hard to pinpoint just a few highlights. By the time the 14th annual New York University Cyber Security Awareness Week (CSAW) games wrapped up November 13, money and scholarships had been awarded, friendships forged, rivalries ignited, winning streaks broken, and records toppled. 

You can see a list of winners in the press release. That probably won’t convey, however, just how it feels to be in the midst of the largest student-run cybersecurity competition in the world: staying awake for 48 hours straight for a software-hacking challenge, joining forces to solve a murder mystery using digital clues, solving a complicated coding puzzle with just seconds to spare, beating more than 12,000 participants from almost 100 different countries in the preliminary rounds...

For that, you’d have to participate one day yourself.

But in the meantime, as NYU Tandon gears up for CSAW 2018, you can be inspired by the words of this year’s keynote speaker: Andrew Tannenbaum, the Chief Cybersecurity Counsel at IBM, whose address to CSAW participants was entitled “How Future Cybersecurity Leaders Can Save The World.”

Tannenbaum pointed out that in our current climate — where evil doers are finding better and faster methods of committing identity theft and other cybercrimes, and where state-sponsored black-hat hackers are threatening our power grids, financial systems, critical infrastructure, and even democracy itself — it’s more important than ever that the good guys step up.

Outlining the attitudes that aspiring cybersecurity pros should cultivate, he advised his rapt audience to:

  • Think big and innovate in order to stay ahead of those with bad intentions.
  • Acknowledge that protecting cyberspace is hard but realize that we can’t give up the fight.
  • Embrace the multidisciplinary aspects of the field and be ready to collaborate towards the common goal.
  • Consider public service as a great way to be part of a mission-driven, important endeavor.
  • Develop leadership and communications skills in order to be of the most value to your team.

“You are the elite corps of cyber talent that can very literally save the world,” he asserted, “and I hope you choose to accept the mission.”