USD’s Center for Cyber Security Engineering and Technology, housed within the engineering school, is one of an estimated 80 universities to receive funding for a camp nationally and the only one in San Diego. The program included formal instruction from engineering and computer science faculty, hands-on experience with cyber defense tools and field trips to local cyber security organizations and companies including Playstation.

More than 200 applications were received from all over the country for 50 spots in the camp. Students selected ranged from those with lots of experience to those from underrepresented communities who were encouraged to consider STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) careers.

An advanced camp will take place later this summer and there will be weekend camps this fall. Click here for more information.

— Liz Harman

In addition to my role as Chief Technology Officer for Circadence, I also serve as an instructor for USD and will be a lead instructor during this program. Many of these Advanced GenCyber students attended the Cyber Bootcamp run by Securing our eCity® (sponsored by ESET® and hosted at General Atomics) last month. I had the pleasure of speaking at that event as well as meeting many of the students in advance. These students shared with me their passion for technology and excitement to learn both offensive and defensive tools and tactics, so I have incorporated a number of valuable tool development exercises into the curriculum. Students will enjoy sessions on penetration testing and target exploitation using Python, as well as capture the flag style exercises.

In addition to instructor-led courses, students will have the opportunity — both individually and in teams — to solve actual cybersecurity challenges in realistic environments within the Circadence Project Ares® platform. During their efforts, they are assisted by an artificial intelligence (AI) powered guide named Athena, who will help them build skills that will transfer to real-world career opportunities. This immersive, gamified approach to cyber skills training enables better retention and understanding for the next generation of cyber professionals.

My colleague Laura Lee, Executive Vice President of Cyber Training and Assessments for Circadence, will join us the final day as the closing speaker. Her discussion will focus on the exciting benefits of cybersecurity as a career path and how gamification is changing the cyber landscape.

Circadence’s partnership with USD for the GenCyber camp is part of the company’s ongoing efforts to address the critical cybersecurity skills gap through innovative, effective cybersecurity training. I’m thrilled to be a part of the GenCyber initiative and look forward to mentoring these 25 students as they learn more about this industry and consider future careers in cybersecurity.

— Ashton Mozano, CTO, Circadence and adjunct faculty member

Rising Cyber Stars

Photo courtesy of University San Diego

“Unlike typical Cyber Boot Camps where the entire focus is on a monolithic, Capture the Flag event to solve puzzles and earn points, the GenCyber Advanced Boot Camp gives students a crash course in advanced tools for exploiting vulnerabilities in target systems and performing hands-on malware analysis,” said Ash Mozano, professor at the USD Center for Cyber Security Engineering and Technology. “The camp culminates with a gamified hacking experience where students will really put their newly acquired knowledge and tools to the test.”

As they explore password cracking, incident management and other advanced topics, students will be using Project Ares that provides cybersecurity teams the opportunity to practice skills and hone tactics via a next-generation online gaming platform developed by Boulder, Colorado-based Circadence, a recognized leader in the federal cybersecurity community.

The camp also includes formal instruction from USD faculty, team projects to solve cybersecurity problems, field trips to cybersecurity organizations in San Diego and speakers including Erik La Cam, San Diego Special Agent Secret Service Computer Forensics, and Laura Lee, Executive Vice President of Cyber Training & Assessments at Circadence.

Students from across the country applied to the camp. To be selected students were required to have above-average STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) proficiency. The 25 selected include students from across California and the East Coast with significant knowledge of coding, participation in cyber clubs or Cyber Patriot programs at their high schools. Through an essay requirement, they expressed their desire and passion to work in cyber security after college.

“When these 10th, 11th and 12th graders complete the camp they will have a thorough knowledge and understanding of cybersecurity foundations to seriously consider a career in the field where entry-level positions can pay as much as $80,000 to $100,000 per year,” Roberts said.

Earlier this summer, USD also hosted a beginner GenCyber camp for students from around the country for the second year in a row.


Photo courtesy of University of San Diego

The day, led by cyber and law enforcement professionals from San Diego’s Homeland Security office, also emphasized the importance of documenting and preserving evidence for successful prosecution. “To catch the bad guys,” you also have to understand the minds of cyber hackers, lead instructor Rusty Sailors from Secure Smart Office Inc. told the students.

With 1.5 million high-paying jobs open in the cyber field, many of the students said the day reinforced their interest in it. “What did you learn today you didn’t know?” Sailors asked students. “Everything,” replied students in unison.

In cyber space, “Everything you do is a footprint” was one of the lessons OLP student Chloe Hallak took from the experience. “I came knowing nothing and now I know so much,” added Hallak who hopes to study engineering at USD when she graduates in 2019.

Hayden Center, who plans to study computer science and engineering and play football for Stanford University when he graduates from Cathedral next spring, said he appreciated the hands-on experience. “It gave us a really good insight into the field as a whole.”

The GenCyber Academy, housed in USD’s Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, expects to sponsor several week-long cyber beginner and advanced cyber camps for high school students in the summer of 2018. Information for applying to the free camps should be available at in early February.

Cyberhub Catholic Students

Photo courtesy of University of San Diego

The internship also has given the high school senior at Patrick Henry High School a chance to use Circadence’s Project Ares, a gamified, artificial intelligence powered cyber training solution that uses real-world tools and tactics for students interested in pursuing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) careers.

Read first had the opportunity to use Project Ares at USD’s GenCyber camp last summer. “They let us give it a go and it was fun to test what I could do,” Read said. In fact, he scored 10,000 points, compared to 6,000 points for the student coming in second place.

He was one of only 25 students selected for USD’s Advanced GenCyber Camp, one of two camps funded in California by the National Security Agency to encourage today’s students to become tomorrow’s cyber professionals as the United States continues to face daily cyber attacks in the public and private sectors.

At Patrick Henry, Read is enrolled in a host of Advanced Placement classes in calculus, computer science and physics, while he applies to various colleges. He began coding at age 11 and also developed his interest in cyber security while playing computer games like Portal. After seeing how cyber systems could be attacked and defended, he was hooked. He remembers thinking, “that’s really interesting. I want to learn more.”

The GenCyber Academy, housed in USD’s Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, expects to sponsor several week-long cyber beginner and advanced cyber camps for high school students in the summer of 2018. Information for applying to the free camps should be available at in early February.

Winners of the 2017 SANS Difference Makers Awards will be celebrated on December 15th at the SANS Cyber Defense Initiative training event in Washington D.C. The 2017 list of SANS Difference Makers Award winners include:

Michael Roling, CISO of The State of Missouri Office of Cyber Security (OCS) successfully led a team to implement the Using Public Data to Alert Organizations of Vulnerabilities program which identifies vulnerable internet connected systems belonging to organizations from various industries across the State of Missouri. The program identifies high-risk systems that, if left insecure, could lead to disruptions within critical infrastructure or significant data loss, and contacts the owners of the impacted systems to mitigate risks.

Dan Basile, Texas A&M University (TAMU), Security Operations Center successfully increased security of TAMU’s systems while helping to grow a pipeline of skilled security operations personnel. Basile put students on the front line of the school’s security initiative. His team was able to stop seven cyberattacks on A&M’s networks in a single year. The center also slashed costs by eliminating the need for post-breach forensics, which costs about $1 million per incident, and accelerated threat detection because students don’t have to sift through piles of data.

Ben Miller, Director of Threat Operations at Dragos led analysis into the first ever piece of malware designed to disrupt power grids. Miller was one of the founding members of the E-ISAC and led cyber threat analysis for the North American power grid for NERC and the community. In his role at Dragos he’s been hunting threats and taking that knowledge and helping various ICS companies implement security controls in response to the threats.

Rob Witoff, Director at Coinbase (now at Google) successfully automated the Center for Internet Security (CIS) Critical Security Controls in Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud applications. Witoff has openly shared his successes with other security teams, showing how foundational security measures can be implemented in an AWS account. He has also prescribed best practices to help make implementation of core AWS security measures more straightforward for security teams and AWS account owners.

Allen Stubblefield, Troy High School for his work, and showing real progress, in developing cyber security skills in high school students by running competitive events that challenged students across a wide range of hands-on cyber security areas. Stubblefied is in charge of cybersecurity and the CyberPatriot program at Troy High School. He has two teams competing in the CyberPatriot nationals; one is ranked number one in the Open Division and the other is number one in the All-Service Division.

Dr. Ron Pike, Computer Information Systems at Cal Poly Pomona for his work, and showing real progress, in developing cyber security skills in college students by running competitive events that challenged students across a wide range of hands-on cyber security areas. Dr. Pike is the advisor for Cal Poly’s SWIFT cyber club and is in charge of the student run data center and security operations center.

Teri Radichel, Director of Security Strategy and Research at WatchGuard Technologies successfully leverages cloud technology and automation to create new solutions for network monitoring and threat intelligence. She was on the initial team that helped Capital One move to the cloud, implementing security controls and networking, and went on to help WatchGuard Technologies architect a cloud platform. Radichel started the Seattle AWS Architects Engineers Meet Up to connect with and learn from other AWS users. She was also recognized by Amazon as an AWS Community Hero.

Meredith R. Harper, Chief Information Privacy & Security Officer at Henry Ford Health System has inspired many security and privacy professionals to focus on why we are protecting data and privacy, namely the health and safety of the patient. Harper was recently named President of the Board at the Medical Identity Fraud Alliance (MIFA) and Chair of the Michigan Healthcare Cybersecurity Council (MiHCC) in addition to her role at Henry Ford.

University and Colleges Shared Services, InfoSec Shared Service Team, Chris Sutherland, CISO was selected as a Vertical Industry Difference Maker in the field of Education. UCSS is a collaboration / jointly owned organization between all of the Universities and Colleges in Scotland. The member institutions of UCSS formed the ISSS to provide shared information security leadership and strategy to efficiently address the common threats to all Universities and Colleges.

Seven states were selected for their efforts to help inspire the next generation cyber security talent by bringing the CyberStart pilot program to students in their respective locations. CyberStart is a forward-thinking skills program designed to build future generations of cyber security professionals while identifying talented young Americans. In addition to providing a unique learning opportunity and scholarships for students, the program can lead to job growth and improved cyber security. The winners include:

  • The State of Delaware, Governor John Carney
  • The State of Hawaii, Governor David Ige and Reynold Hioki, Chief Information Officer
  • The State of Iowa, Governor Kim Reynolds and Alison Radl, Information Security Officer OCIO
  • The State of Michigan, Governor Rick Snyder
  • The State of Nevada, Governor Brian Sandoval and Brian Mitchell, Director of the Office of Science, Innovation and Technology
  • The State of Rhode Island, Governor Gina Raimondo and Christina M. Cosgrove
  • The Commonwealth of Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe and Karen Jackson, Secretary of Technology

To learn more about the SANS Difference Makers Awards, visit: