Global Search for Best White Hat Student Hackers Narrows as 5 Countries Prep for NYU Cyber Security Awareness Week Games

Top Teams Win Slots to Compete in November in the Final Rounds of World’s Largest Student-Led Security Competition

To solve the fictional murder mystery posed in the 2016 CSAW High School Forensics Contest, students had to examine evidence in an LG smart watch donated by CSAW sponsor Google.

An elite corps of 400 high school, college, and graduate students bested thousands of teams to advance to the finals of the world’s biggest student-led cybersecurity contest: the New York University Tandon School of Engineering’s annual Cyber Security Awareness Week (CSAW) games.

Among the events spread over five days (November 9 - 13, 2017) of the CSAW finals will be Capture the Flag (CTF), High School Forensics (HSF), and the Embedded Security Challenge (ESC). Last year CSAW expanded to include NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) and the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (IIT Kanpur), one of the top universities for computer science education in India. This year, CSAW expands even further, with new hubs in Valence, France, at Grenoble INP-Esisar, one of six engineering schools of the Grenoble Institute of Technology, and Ben-Gurion University in Israel, located in the new Advanced Technology Park in the Negev, Israel’s “cyber alley.” CSAW Israel is organized by BGU’s Department of Software and Information Systems Engineering and the IBM Cyber Security Center of Excellence, located in Ben-Gurion University. In North America, India, France, and the United Arab Emirates, finals take place November 9 - 11, 2017. In Israel, finals take place November 12 and 13, 2017.

Student teams from India, the Middle East and North Africa, France, Israel, and North America will compete simultaneously — and in person — at the five schools.

Global Demand for Cybersecurity Education

Cyber security is one of the fastest growing and most lucrative fields in the world. With roughly 7,980 data breaches exposing nearly 1.05 billion records since 2005, defenders are in short supply. Employers are struggling to fill 200,000 jobs requiring cybersecurity skills. The shortfall is expected to reach 1.8 million globally by 2022.

For the second consecutive year, the NYU Center for Cybersecurity will award scholarships to those who win first place in the CTF, ESC, or the Applied Research challenges at any of the five regional hubs and are admitted to NYU Tandon’s highly competitive doctoral programs. Scholarships include full tuition and fellowships. Additionally, over $1 million in scholarships will be offered to all finalists and winners of the CSAW High School Forensics (HSF) Challenge at NYU Tandon. Scholarships are contingent upon admission to NYU Tandon and satisfactory academic progress.

Capture The Flag

Players of all levels and ages from around the world registered for CTF, the flagship event of CSAW. After 48 hours of around-the-clock software hacking contests, a top-notch group of college students bested more than 2,400 teams — an estimated 10,000 players — from 95 countries to be finalists at one of the five global CSAW hubs. Ten North American teams will compete in CTF finals at NYU Tandon.

During the preliminary rounds of CTF, teams were presented with a series of real-world computer security challenges. As competitors advanced through the challenges, they earned points, or “flags,” with winners qualifying for cash prizes, bragging rights, and travel awards to compete at the finals. CTFs are not only essential training for students and cybersecurity professionals, they are also a way to introduce young people worldwide to the field and entice them to pursue information security careers.

To view teams competing at the CSAW finals in all five regions, visit CSAW Capture the Flag.

High School Forensics

The CSAW HSF challenge introduces high school-age novices to the cybersecurity field, attracting students who enjoy solving puzzles and encouraging newcomers with an entry-level CTF-style game that focuses on forensics topics.

Nearly 600 teams participated around the world, with 29 teams winning coveted slots to compete in person this year at CSAW final rounds at NYU Tandon, NYU Abu Dhabi, and Grenoble INP-Esisar.

To view teams competing at the CSAW finals, including ten teams who will compete at NYU Tandon, visit CSAW High School Forensics.

Embedded Security Challenge

Founded in 2008 by NYU Tandon Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Ramesh Karri and his students, the Embedded Security Challenge — the oldest and largest hardware hacking competition in the world and the most difficult event at CSAW — contributes to worldwide scholarship in the emerging field. 

The tournament employs a “red team, blue team” format that mimics real-world attacks. This year’s challenge, developed in partnership with the U.S. Office of Naval Research, requires the competitors to make programmable logic controllers more resilient to cybersecurity threats by employing novel fault detection and recovery techniques. The qualification round required teams to describe their detection and recovery strategy. At Finals, teams will demonstrate solutions live on Raspberry Pi microchip platforms.

The competition is a cornerstone program of NYU’s hardware security group. Part of NYU Center for Cyber Security and comprising researchers at NYU Tandon and NYU Abu Dhabi, the group has become a leading force in microchip security.

Finals will be held at NYU Tandon, NYU Abu Dhabi, IIT Kanpur, and Grenoble INP-Esisar.

To view the teams competing at the CSAW finals, including seven who will compete at NYU Tandon, visit CSAW Embedded Security Challenge.

Law and Policy

This competition — running at NYU Tandon and IIT Kanpur — attracts students who are interested in the nexus of law, policy, and emerging security issues. In the U.S., teams were asked to submit briefs related to the disclosure of investigative methods that use computer code. In India, the topic focused on policy interventions to solve the fake news epidemic. After a written qualifying round, finalists will come to New York and Kanpur to present their best legal arguments for the competition’s final round.

To view the four teams competing at CSAW Law and Policy finals at NYU Tandon, visit the CSAW Law & Policy finalists page.

Applied Research

Recognized as the leading competition for young cybersecurity researchers, the Applied Research Competition accepts only peer-reviewed security papers that have already been published by scholarly journals and conferences. This year, top academics and practitioners in the field reviewed 170 papers to arrive at the list of finalists. During the CSAW final round, one of the student authors of each paper will present in poster format to judges, who will evaluate the originality, relevance, and accuracy of the research. Finals for this competition will be held at NYU Tandon, NYU Abu Dhabi, IIT Kanpur, and Grenoble INP-Esisar.

To view the 11 teams competing in the CSAW Applied Research finals at NYU Tandon, visit the CSAW Applied Research finalists page.

Cyber Journalism Award

New for 2017, this award recognizes excellence in reporting on cyber security across all journalistic categories. A joint project of the NYU Tandon School of Engineering and the NYU Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, the competition is open to professional journalists and student scribes alike. The winner will be announced later this month.

Finalists Will Travel to NYU Tandon, NYU Abu Dhabi; the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur; Grenoble-INP Esisar in France; and Ben-Gurion University in Israel for Competition and More

The CSAW games were founded in 2003 as a small contest by and for NYU Tandon students; CSAW has grown to become the most comprehensive set of challenges by and for students around the globe. NYU students continue to design the contests under the mentorship of information security professionals and faculty. NYU Tandon’s student-led Offensive Security, Incident Response and Internet Security (OSIRIS) laboratory, home to weekly student-led Hack Night training and student research, leads the HSF and CTF challenges. Students from the NYU School of Law design the CSAW Law & Policy Challenge; and Ramesh Karri, NYU Tandon professor of electrical and computer engineering and Charles Seife, professor at the NYU Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, conceived the CSAW Cyber Journalism Award. Students at the partner universities take leadership roles at their respective CSAW hubs, as well.

“Data security is a global issue in which attackers can come from anywhere and physical borders are no defense against threats,” said Karri, who is also co-founder of the NYU Center for Cyber Security. “Top cybersecurity schools across the world recognize that competitions like CSAW’s Capture the Flag and High School Forensics are valuable tools for engaging, educating and preparing students for a field that for the foreseeable future will be hungry for new talent and fresh ideas. Educating a new generation of security experts is of the utmost importance.”

In keeping with the CSAW tradition at NYU Tandon of introducing finalists to professionals and career opportunities during the event, Andrew Tannenbaum, chief cybersecurity counsel at IBM, will deliver the keynote presentation at CSAW North America on November 9. Dino Dai Zovi, co-founder and CTO of Capsule8, will present the Security Expert Luncheon keynote on November 10.

CSAW’17 North American Sponsors are: Gold Level — Capsule8, IBM, the United States Navy Office of Naval Research, Palo Alto Networks; Silver Level — BAE Systems, Bridgewater; Bronze Level — Bloomberg, Facebook, Jane Street, Jefferies, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Raytheon, RBC Capital Markets, TD Bank, Uber; Supporting Level — Cubic Corporation, William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, National Security Agency, NCC Group, Rhymetec, The Ruth & Jerome A. Siegel Foundation, United States Secret Service; Contributing: Applied Computer Security Associates, Carnegie Mellon University, CTFd, Optiv, Red Balloon Security, Sandia National Laboratories.

For more information on CSAW, visit csaw.engineering.nyu.edu. Follow @CSAW_NYUTandon.

Note: Images from the 2016 CSAW finals available at dam.engineering.nyu.edu.


About the NYU Tandon School of Engineering
The NYU Tandon School of Engineering dates to 1854, when the NYU School of Civil Engineering and Architecture as well as the Brooklyn Collegiate and Polytechnic Institute (widely known as Brooklyn Poly) were founded. Their successor institutions merged in January 2014 to create a comprehensive school of education and research in engineering and applied sciences, rooted in a tradition of invention, innovation and entrepreneurship. In addition to programs at its main campus in downtown Brooklyn, it is closely connected to engineering programs in NYU Abu Dhabi and NYU Shanghai, and it operates business incubators in downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn. engineering.nyu.edu.

About NYU Abu Dhabi
NYU Abu Dhabi consists of a highly selective liberal arts and science college (including engineering), and a world center for advanced research and scholarship — all fully integrated with each other and connected to NYU in New York. Together, NYU New York, NYU Abu Dhabi, and NYU Shanghai form the backbone of a unique global network university, with faculty and students from each campus spending "semesters away" at one or more of the numerous study-abroad sites NYU maintains on six continents. For more information, visit nyuad.nyu.edu.

About IIT Kanpur
Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, is one of the premier institutions set up by the Government of India. Registered in 1959, the institute was assisted by nine leading institutions of U.S.A in the setting up of its academic programs and laboratories during the period 1962-72. With its record of path-breaking innovations and cutting-edge research, the institute is known the world over as a learning centre of repute in engineering, science and several inter-disciplinary areas. In addition to formal undergraduate and postgraduate courses, the institute has been active in research and development in areas of value to both industry and government. For more information, visit iitk.ac.in.

About Grenoble INP - Esisar
Grenoble INP - Esisar is part of the Grenoble Institute of Technology, which brings together six renowned engineering schools, close to the industrial world and open to international exchanges. The Grenoble Institute of Technology is one of Europe's leading technology universities, at the heart of innovation for more than a century. It offers a range of engineering, masters and doctoral courses both in French and in English, driven by world-class research in 37 laboratories, and 6 state-of-the-art technology platforms, developed in partnership with other institutions. Esisar engineers are trained in Embedded Systems and IT technologies, with a cutting-edge curriculum spanning Electronics, Computer Sciences/IT, Control and Networks. Esisar and the associated research laboratory LCI host the industrial chair of Excellence Trust which aims at developing innovative teaching and research programs in cybersecurity.

About Ben-Gurion University
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev is the fastest growing research university in Israel, fulfilling the vision of David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, who envisaged the future of Israel emerging from the Negev. From medicine to the humanities to the natural sciences, BGU conducts groundbreaking research and offers insightful instruction. The University is at the heart of Beer-Sheva's transformation into the country's cyber capital, where leading multi-national corporations leverage BGU’s expertise to generate innovative R&D. A third of Israel’s engineers graduate from BGU, with that number destined to rise as the IDF moves south and sends its brightest to swell the ranks of BGU’s student body. To accommodate that growth, BGU has launched an ambitious campaign to double the size of its main campus. As it counts up to its fiftieth anniversary, the University's research becomes ever more relevant as its global reach broadens. bgu.ac.il.

Learn more about: Ramesh Karri