Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Student Program at the 2020 NSF Cybersecurity Summit

In September we hosted our annual NSF Cybersecurity Summit for Large Facilities and Cyberinfrastructure. This year's event was hosted online, which presented some challenges as well as new opportunities to broaden our audience. This is especially the case with our student program. Without the budget constraints of travel and hotel accommodations, we were able to allocate more registration seats to students than in previous years. This year twenty-seven students, from inside and outside the US, joined us for three days of hands-on training, talks, panels, and active Q & A sessions.

Because our student attendance was significantly larger than in previous years, we decided to host a panel specifically targeted toward their interests. Prior to the Summit we asked the students to vote from a list of topics. They selected "Multidisciplinary in Cyber: Research, education, and industry." Our panelists (names listed below) included senior leadership in cybersecurity institutions as well as experts in crime and psychology. They talked about the various efforts in research, education, and industry to engage these domains to gain a more holistic approach to cybersecurity. One key takeaway was the panel's emphasis that a diverse group of backgrounds and interests can enhance an organization or project's security posture. And, some light but practical advice, remember to "Marie Kondo" your attack surface. The fewer apps you manage on your devices, the better off you will be.

We asked the students to share their thoughts on their experiences at the Summit. Below are a selection of their responses. These statements have been edited for brevity and clarity.

Posie Aagaard; Master's in Information Technology with Cyber Focus, University of Texas San Antonio (LinkedIn)

The conference was very well organized and information about the conference was clearly communicated in advance, which helped me plan. I appreciated the pre-recorded sessions and was able to view them in advance. Richard Biever’s and Ken Goodwin’s vulnerability scanning/honeypot session, and Pablo Morian’s session on cyberinfrastructure protection using machine learning, made me wonder, “Why didn’t I think of that?”

The session moderators did a super job of being punctual, informative, and keeping that human element in the virtual sessions. Thank you for recording some sessions, and thanks to the presenters for sharing slides as they were able.

I found Kate Starbird’s keynote on disinformation to be fascinating and relevant to the discussions organizations should be having about cybersecurity. The humor and candor in Jerry Brower’s "Gemini’s Policy Laxative," was welcome and informative. Susan Son’s "Speak Their Language," included some gems of advice that I am sure I will reference in my future briefings.

The Tuesday training session was a great bonus. I liked the technical hands-on aspect and the ability to ask presenters questions along the way. I attended Bart Miller’s and Elisa Heymann’s session. They did a lot to prepare ahead of time.
Hristina Jovanoska; Associate's in Cybersecurity/Information Assurance, Ivy Tech Community College (LinkedIn)
I thank the NSF for choosing me to represent this year's student program. I learned so much that I will take with me in my career. It was a great experience for all three days of the Summit. Thank you again. Stay safe and healthy, and I'm looking forward to next year's Summit.
Krunal Mahant; Master's in Computer Security, Rochester Institute of Technology (LinkedIn)
This was my first experience as a student to be a part of an event that involves such a large number of candidates. The best part about the Summit was that everyone I interacted with had the same mindset as me: to share experiences and learn from one another. I attended the Web Security tools training session and was instantly inspired by the experiences shared by both Prof. Bart Miller and Elisa Heymann. Each session had so much information packed in a very organised way that it never felt overwhelming at all. Apart from the training day, I was part of the "Build a Cybersecurity Culture with Tabletop Security Exercises" by Josh Drake. It was a fun and insightful experience as there were topics discussed in the session that I had never imagined were important in building the security culture. It gave me good knowledge about how organizations in the industry use techniques to develop security habits. All in all, my experience was great and I would love to continue being part of NSF Cybersecurity Summit each year. Thanks a lot for accepting me as a participant.
Eric Tatman; Bachelor's in Intelligent Systems Engineering, Indiana University Bloomington (LinkedIn)
I really enjoyed keynote speaker Kate Starbird's presentation on disinformation. I thought it was a very insightful presentation, particularly when she shared overlays of her models depicting how the sources of disinformation not only come from opposing factions in contemporary social movements, but some of the disinformation somes from the same source. This showed that some of the disinformation sources are not only acting on both sides, but they are using their ability to manipulate what each different factions are focused on at a certain time.
Trusted CI thanks the members of the student panel, and the students themselves, for making this year's Summit a success. As always, the students' participation and enthusiasm is a rewarding affirmation of our commitment to community building.

Student Panel Moderators

  • Jeannette Dopheide - Senior Education, Outreach, and Training Coordinator at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois
  • Aunshul Rege - Associate Professor at Temple University


  • ​Dr. Tonya Davis - Assistant Professor at Alabama A&M University
  • Kevin Metcalf - Chief Executive Officer for the National Child Protection Task Force
  • Helen Patton - Chief Information Security Officer at the Ohio State University
  • ​Rodney Petersen - Director of the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (or NICE) at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)