World’s Biggest Student-Led Cyber Security Games Expand to Israel

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beer-Sheva

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beer-Sheva is one of five global hubs for Capture the Flag, the signature event of NYU Tandon School of Engineering's annual Cyber Security Awareness Week (CSAW) competitions.

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and IBM in Israel join NYU Tandon, NYU Abu Dhabi, the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur, and Grenoble INP - Esisar in Attracting Best Young Hackers and Protectors to Vital Field of Study
Registration Opens for All Contests in All Countries
New Award to Recognize Best Journalism Coverage


The world’s biggest student-run cyber security event will get even bigger this year: Cyber Security Awareness Week (CSAW), founded 14 years ago by the New York University Tandon School of Engineering, announced it will expand to Israel, which will become the fifth country to host the final rounds of competitions that test the skills of thousands of future cyber sleuths and protectors.

Students — from high school through doctoral candidates — can begin registering for the preliminary rounds of the varied contests in the hope that they will win a chance to play among the world’s best in the final rounds of competition November 9-13, 2017, in Brooklyn, Abu Dhabi, France, India, and Israel. Also for the first time this year, students from Canada and Mexico can qualify for the finals in Brooklyn.

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beer-Sheva (BGU) will be one of five global hubs for the event’s signature competition, Capture the Flag (CTF). CSAW Israel, organized by BGU’s Department of Software and Information Systems Engineering and the IBM Cyber Security Center of Excellence (CCoE), is accepting registrations for the qualification round on September 5-6, 2017. The CSAW CTF finals in Israel will be held November 12-13, 2017 at the BGU campus in Beer-Sheva. Final rounds at the other global hubs will be November 9-11.

In 2016, NYU Tandon joined with the NYU Abu Dhabi Center for Cyber Security, and the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur (IIT-Kanpur) to widen CSAW beyond Brooklyn, New York, for the first time by staging simultaneous final rounds for students in the Middle East, North Africa, and India. Earlier this year, Grenoble INP - Esisar, based in Valence, France, part of the Grenoble Institute of Technology, became the European hub for CSAW.

In 2012, Ben-Gurion University became the first Israeli university and one of the first in the world to offer graduate study tracks in cyber securityIBM’s Cyber Security Center of Excellence at BGU, established in 2014, is a home for an influential team of IBM security researchers and engineers who investigate emerging cyber threats and solutions in collaboration with BGU researchers.
The Cyber Security Research Center at BGU conducts applied cyber security research. It is located in the new Advanced Technology Park in the Negev, Israel’s new ‘cyber alley.’

“The launch of a new CSAW hub at Ben-Gurion University reflects the spirit of the collaborative innovation between IBM and the university,” said Dr. Yaron Wolfsthal, director of IBM’s Cyber Center of Excellence at BGU. “This collaboration has previously had many forms, such as joint research on cognitive computing methods for cyber security, and participation of IBM’s National CERT analysts in BGU educational programs. The latest introduction of the local CTF competition in Beer-Sheva makes our partnership even more influential in establishing Israel as a cyber security leader.”

“I believe that the new CSAW initiative with IBM in collaboration with the BGU Software and Information Systems Engineering Department (SISE) and the BGU Cyber Security Research Center is a great opportunity for the advancement of cyber security research at BGU” said Prof. Bracha Shapira, head of the SISE Department.

NYU Tandon, NYU Abu Dhabi, Grenoble INP - Esisar, and IIT-Kanpur are now also accepting registrations for the CSAW elimination rounds in September, which last year pitted more than 10,000 students — from high schools through doctoral programs — against global competitors, all working from their own computers. The competitions will challenge their knowledge of virtually every aspect of information security, from hardware and software penetration testing and protection to digital forensics and government policy.

This year, the best students from India, parts of the Middle East and North Africa, Europe, the United States, Canada, and Mexico will participate in the final rounds. Travel awards and prizes vary by region.

At the regional CSAW campuses, students will network with top professionals who serve as judges, hear experts address emerging issues, meet recruiters eager to fill what is expected to be a shortfall of 1.5 million cyber security professionals by 2020, and face tough competition from teams from other schools.

The CSAW games were founded by Professor Nasir Memon of the NYU Tandon Department of Computer Science and Engineering and his students. Students continue to design the contests under the mentorship of information security professionals and faculty and run them from NYU Tandon’s student-led Offensive Security, Incident Response and Internet Security (OSIRIS) lab, home also to weekly Hack Nights.

“Since data knows no borders, and national boundaries offer no impediment to attackers, data security is indeed a global issue,” said Ramesh Karri, professor of electrical and computer engineering at NYU Tandon and lead faculty member for CSAW. “Collaboration is critical: those who protect our personal privacy and institutions must transcend borders and work across regions. A key challenge will be cultivating new data-security talent to meet demand; CSAW’s expansion to Israel and four other global hubs is an acknowledgement of the important role white-hat competitions play in cultivating that talent worldwide.”

Each of the regional CSAW conferences will have a slightly varied agenda in terms of competitions and events. Winners of the final rounds can walk away with cash prizes, scholarships, and more. Bragging rights are often the biggest motivator – CSAW has become a boldface line for recruiters and university admissions officers. The roster of events (with registration available at linked websites) includes:

  • Capture the Flag (CTF) hacking competition – the cornerstone challenge attracts upwards of 10,000 remote players each year and provides entry- and mid-level problems to solve at the preliminary stage. Students compete against professionals and amateurs of all ages in the remote round, which — excepting CTF in Israel — takes place September 15-17. Only the best teams qualify for the 36-hour-long marathon of the final round, which is notoriously difficult. Players who will qualify for CTF Finals at Tandon, NYUAD, IITK, and Esisar will all register and play at the above hyperlinked site.
  • High School Forensics – The entryway into cyber security, this competition attracts students who enjoy solving puzzles, in this case a fictional murder mystery involving a cybercrime syndicate. To encourage newcomers, NYU Tandon offers scholarships to all teams who qualify for the CSAW North America Finals.
  • Embedded Security Challenge – In the world’s oldest hardware hacking contest, a Blue Team from NYU Tandon designs a target system. Everyone else – Red Teams – will hack it, to mimic real-world attacks. The finalists will present their findings to security experts in this challenging, research-oriented contest. This year’s challenge will focus on making legacy programmable logic controllers (PLCs) more resilient to current cyber security threats.
  • Applied Research Competition – To participate in what is recognized as the most prestigious Best Paper Award for young researchers, doctoral students must submit papers that have already been published in peer-reviewed journals or presented at conferences.
  • Law & Policy Competition – Challenging contestants to think about the big picture of law, policy, economics, and governance, the 2017 competition requires students to develop a policy paper proposing whether investigative methods that use computer code should be disclosed to criminal defendants.
  • Security Quiz – Held during the finals, this academic bowl-style trivia contest challenges students on technical knowledge as well as history and current events in cyber security. Teams will face off across three rounds. The teams that emerge from the semi-finals will compete for top place in a finals tournament just before the CSAW Awards ceremony.
  • Cyber Security Journalism Award – New for 2017, this award recognizes excellence in reporting on cyber security across all journalistic categories. This competition is a joint project of the NYU Tandon School of Engineering and the NYU Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute.

The 2017 CSAW in North America is supported by Gold Sponsors IBM, Palo Alto Networks, and the Office of Naval Research; Silver Sponsor BAE Systems; Bronze Sponsors Bloomberg, Jane Street, JefferiesJPMorgan Chase & Co.; Supporting Sponsors Cubic, Rhymetec, the Ruth & Jerome A. Siegel Foundation, and the United States Secret Service; and Contributing Sponsors Applied Computer Security Associates and CTFd.

For more information and to register, visit Follow @CSAW_NYUTandon.

Note: Images available at

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.

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

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

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 from 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 LCIS host the industrial chair of Excellence Trust which aims at developing innovative teaching and research programs in cyber security. 

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.