World’s Biggest Student Cybersecurity Games Widen Scope to Teach High School Students Digital Forensics

12th Annual NYU Cyber Security Awareness Week Attracts Thousands from Pre-College through Doctoral Level

The world’s biggest student cybersecurity games—New York University Cyber Security Awareness Week (NYU CSAW)—are about to get a whole lot bigger as organizers re-engineer the High School Forensics Challenge  to introduce thousands of young investigators to the field of information security.

For the first time this September, the preliminary round will adopt a fast-paced format borrowed from the iconic NYU CSAW Capture the Flag (CTF) hacking contest that attracts tens of thousands of participants worldwide.  The CTF and the digital forensics challenge are just two of the six contests that will bring hundreds of high school and collegiate finalists, their mentors, recruiters, and top academics and professionals to the NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering in Brooklyn for the 12th annual NYU CSAW November 12-14, 2015.

To introduce novice high school students to the skills they will need, NYU cybersecurity undergraduate and graduate students worked with mentors to develop self-guided online education modules, and they will offer real-time guidance through webinars.

“We originally conceived of the CSAW High School Forensics competition as a means to engage students at a young age in an exciting area of computer science,” said Professor Nasir Memon, NYU CSAW founder and chair of the NYU School of Engineering Department of Computer Science and Engineering. “The initiative has proved very successful, and we are pleased to be scaling up our outreach this year through the open-source CyFor education modules and a new contest format.”

Did you know…

The personal information for nearly half of all U.S. adults was hacked in 2014, according to the Ponemon Institute and CNN.

Security breaches are growing: 77 percent of security professionals saw more attacks in 2014 than in 2013, reports the RCA Conference and ISACA.

More than 209,000 security jobs are unfilled and postings are up 74 percent over the last 5 years, according to Peninsula Press.

The cybersecurity industry will suffer a staffing shortage of 1.5 million people by 2020, forecasts Frost & Sullivan for the trade group (ISC)².

Winners from every state will be recognized, and 10 high 
school student teams from across America will win trips to 
New York where they will join hundreds of undergraduate, 
graduate, and doctoral students competing for the final round 

The stakes are high: More than $450,000 will be awarded 
in scholarships for high school finalists alone, plus cash 
prizes for university winners. In addition, all finalists 
interact with some of the top students as well as recognized 
professionals and academics.

Other highlights of the 12th annual NYU CSAW will include:

  • The world’s only hardware hacking and protection 
contest will address real-world insecurities of digital 
voting. In the Embedded Systems Security Contest, 
students will research how the vote tally of a 
homomorphic encrypted system could be corrupted.

  • Organizers of the CTF are designing 48 hours of 
preliminary challenges September 18-20 that are 
accessible to beginners yet challenging to 
professionals. (Only 15 U.S. undergraduate teams 
will advance to the finals, where the 36-hour software 
hackfest is, by contrast, legendarily difficult.)

  • The NYU Brooklyn campus will once again become the epicenter for top young researchers, as graduate and doctoral students whose work has already been published in respected journals and conferences vie for the distinction of Best Applied Research Paper.

  • Policy Competition entrants will address one of the most controversial debates in information security: Should government institute bug bounties like tech companies already employ to encourage independents to reveal flaws in their digital systems?

  • This year’s fast-paced gameshow, Homeland Security Quiz, will focus on control systems and go high-tech as contestants compete using a new tablet app.

  • Brendan Hannigan, general manager of IBM Security, will serve as keynote speaker for the welcome reception, and the featured speaker for the awards ceremony will be Neil Herschfield, deputy section manager for the Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response.

  • Turning the tables on other career fairs in which students petition employers, more than 20 of the most prestigious tech employers will be eagerly seeking CSAW finalists and Greater New York area students with cybersecurity backgrounds for internships and full-time positions.

Sponsors for this year’s NYU CSAW are Gold Level—U.S. Department of Homeland Security; Silver Level—IBM, which will also host the welcome reception and a networking event for CTF and High School Forensics finalists; Bronze—Facebook, FireEye, Navy Civilian Careers-U.S. Navy, NCC Group USA, Oceans Edge Inc., Palentir, Palo Alto Networks, Qualcomm Inc., Raytheon, Two Sigma, and Yelp; Supporting Level—Accuvant, Cubic, Cypher Tech Solutions, Intel Corporation, LIFARS, MITLL, PWC, Rakuten Loyalty, Sandia National Laboratories, and the U.S. Secret Service.

For more information or to register, visit