Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Risk

11/9/2018
04:30 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
Google+
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Inside CSAW, a Massive Student-Led Cybersecurity Competition

Nearly 400 high school, undergraduate, and graduate students advance to the final round of New York University's CSAW games.

CSAW – Brooklyn, New York – New York University's CSAW, which calls itself the world's largest student-run cybersecurity competition, this week announced the 397 high school, undergraduate, and graduate students from around the world who will enter its final round.

CSAW started in, and is organized by, NYU's Tandon School of Engineering. This year, its 15th running, saw 3,500 teams from more than 100 countries enter the games. The remaining contenders will now travel to academic sites across four continents to compete in the finals.

The competition was founded in 2003 as a small local event by Nasir Memon, an NYU professor of computer science and engineering. It has since expanded to include eight global events, all of which evolve to host challenges and contests that align with the changing threat landscape.

"It started accidentally, like many things start," said Memon in an interview with Dark Reading at the North American branch of the CSAW finals. The event is taking place this week on NYU Tandon's campus in Brooklyn, New York.

CSAW's first participants, all Tandon students, were challenged with cleaning up poorly configured laptops among other adversarial tasks designed to test their offensive and defensive security skills. The internal competition quickly expanded — first to local New York universities, then throughout the tri-state area, and now in Mexico, Israel, and around the world.

"What we really caught on to was, there's a kind of talent that likes these adversarial challenges," Memon explained. "You cannot really teach security by lecturing in a classroom. You have to understand how attackers work."

The first stage of CSAW happens online. When competitors reach the finals, they're brought together so they can get to know each other. "In order to protect … you need to be sharing information with each other," he said. "Otherwise, the bad guys have an advantage."

Challenges are designed with the help of New York City's top white-hat hackers. Players of all ages and levels can join Capture the Flag, the flagship CSAW event that tests hacking and defensive skills. An embedded security challenge, which CSAW calls its most difficult event, pits red teams against blue teams in simulated cyberattacks. This year's, created with the United States Office of Naval Research, requires participants to perform data exfiltration attacks against Internet of Things devices.

Different challenges attract students of different levels and expertise. A Policy Challenge attracts students in policy and law school who are interested in how security will play a role. Applied Research accepts peer-reviewed security papers that have been published in scholarly journals. A forensics analysis competition is restricted to high school students, he explained.

Memon said CSAW has proven an effective way to attract students to cybersecurity, a concept he said wasn't yet in people's minds when the competition started 15 years ago. Studies show after competing, students often decide to pursue cybersecurity careers, he pointed out. If they don't, they have greater security awareness as software engineers or other non-infosec roles.

The event has become a hot spot for recruiters, who CSAW initially brought in to help offset the cost of transportation and accommodations for students who fly in for the finals. "We're not doing this to make money," Memon said, noting all the workers are volunteers. But flights and hotels for a growing pool of student competitors can get expensive.

Companies "across the board" come to CSAW to recruit security employees, he said, with the majority representing the tech and financial sectors. A growing number of businesses are expressing interest in attending the event to seek out talent.

Related Content:

 

Black Hat Europe returns to London Dec. 3-6, 2018, with hands-on technical Trainings, cutting-edge Briefings, Arsenal open-source tool demonstrations, top-tier security solutions, and service providers in the Business Hall. Click for information on the conference and to register.

Kelly Sheridan is the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial ... View Full Bio
 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Oldest First  |  Newest First  |  Threaded View
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 7/9/2020
Omdia Research Launches Page on Dark Reading
Tim Wilson, Editor in Chief, Dark Reading 7/9/2020
4 Security Tips as the July 15 Tax-Day Extension Draws Near
Shane Buckley, President & Chief Operating Officer, Gigamon,  7/10/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Special Report: Computing's New Normal, a Dark Reading Perspective
This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
Flash Poll
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
This report describes some of the latest attacks and threats emanating from the Internet, as well as advice and tips on how your organization can mitigate those threats before they affect your business. Download it today!
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-15105
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-10
Django Two-Factor Authentication before 1.12, stores the user's password in clear text in the user session (base64-encoded). The password is stored in the session when the user submits their username and password, and is removed once they complete authentication by entering a two-factor authenticati...
CVE-2020-11061
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-10
In Bareos Director less than or equal to 16.2.10, 17.2.9, 18.2.8, and 19.2.7, a heap overflow allows a malicious client to corrupt the director's memory via oversized digest strings sent during initialization of a verify job. Disabling verify jobs mitigates the problem. This issue is also patched in...
CVE-2020-4042
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-10
Bareos before version 19.2.8 and earlier allows a malicious client to communicate with the director without knowledge of the shared secret if the director allows client initiated connection and connects to the client itself. The malicious client can replay the Bareos director's cram-md5 challenge to...
CVE-2020-11081
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-10
osquery before version 4.4.0 enables a priviledge escalation vulnerability. If a Window system is configured with a PATH that contains a user-writable directory then a local user may write a zlib1.dll DLL, which osquery will attempt to load. Since osquery runs with elevated privileges this enables l...
CVE-2020-6114
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-10
An exploitable SQL injection vulnerability exists in the Admin Reports functionality of Glacies IceHRM v26.6.0.OS (Commit bb274de1751ffb9d09482fd2538f9950a94c510a) . A specially crafted HTTP request can cause SQL injection. An attacker can make an authenticated HTTP request to trigger this vulnerabi...