Let the Hacking Begin: NYU Launches Largest Cyber Security Student Contests

Even before the academic semester starts, students from across the globe have begun registering for the largest set of student cyber security competitions in the world: the NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering Cyber Security Awareness Week (CSAW).

Last year, more than 15,000 students—from high school through doctoral programs—competed in preliminary rounds for a spot in the final rounds of six different competitions. This year, the winners of the preliminary rounds will travel to Brooklyn to compete for scholarships and prizes in the 11th annual CSAW November 13-15.

Alex Stamos, Yahoo’s chief information security officer, will deliver the keynote address during the Finalist Reception on November 13, welcoming hundreds of student finalists along with the professionals and academics who mentor the students and serve as judges for the CSAW challenges. Yahoo is a Silver Sponsor for the 2014 CSAW competitions.

Stamos’s talk, "Shaping the Future: Spies, Cyber Crimes, and Your Career," will recount historical arguments in the security industry and discuss the ethical conundrums faced by practitioners. Stamos plans to include real-world scenarios and choices as well as a chance to discuss his experiences securing the data of about a billion users.

“A career in information security has never held so much promise or peril,” Stamos said. “New members of the security community have the opportunity to build systems that bring trust and innovation into the lives of billions.”

“Alex Stamos exemplifies the core values of CSAW,” said Professor Nasir Memon, CSAW founder and chair of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering. “He brings unprecedented insight on exciting, real-world challenges to participating students. We welcome Mr. Stamos, and thank both him and Yahoo for engaging students in this important academic field.”

New to this year’s CSAW is a competition for public policy developed by students. Returning contests are the signature Capture the Flag hacking competition for undergraduate students; the Digital Forensics Competition for high school students; the Best Research Paper Competition that accepts only research already presented in peer-reviewed conferences and scholarly journals; the Embedded Systems Security Competition, which tests and secures hardware; and the quick-paced gameshow-like U.S. Homeland Security Quiz.

Also new this year is an expanded CSAW THREADS research conference, which will focus on scaling security to meet the growing demands of software development and operations. In addition to discussions of the latest developments in security automation, CSAW THREADS will feature a demonstration of a novel incident detection and analysis system funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and intended for enterprises.

CSAW also introduces participating students to recruiters at top technology and security firms during a career fair.

Twenty institutions to date have signed up to support CSAW: Gold Sponsor—the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; Silver Sponsor—Yahoo; Bronze Sponsors—Facebook, National Security Agency, NCC Group North America, Palantir, and Raytheon; and Supporting Sponsors—BlackRock, Cigital, FireEye, Intel, NYU Information Systems and Internet Security, MicrosoftMIT Lincoln Laboratory, PwC, Sandia National Laboratories, Stroz Friedberg, Trail of Bits, Two Sigma, and United States Secret Service.

For more information or to register for any of the competitions, visit https://csaw.isis.poly.edu/.

CSAW is supported by the NYU School of Engineering’s Information Systems and Internet Security Laboratory, an offensive security research environment where students gain a unique perspective and a proper foundation that allows them to master any area of cyber security. The lab is run solely by students, advised by hackers-in-residence and industry partners, and directed by Memon.

The NYU School of Engineering was one of the first universities to develop a cyber security program, launching its master’s degree in cyber security in 2009. Since then, more than 100 recipients have gone on to careers as developers of security products, security application programmers, security analysts, penetration testers, vulnerability analysts, and security architects. The school also offers numerous cyber security courses and extra-curricular opportunities for undergraduates. It has received all three Center of Excellence designations from the National Security Agency and the United States Cyber Command. Its cyber security program was previously singled out by the Sloan Consortium as the outstanding graduate online program.