CSAW'16 Challenge leads, mentors, and guides



Christopher Thompson is the student challenge leader for the 2016 CSAW Capture the Flag (CTF) Competition, an event in which he was a finalist for NYU Tandon School of Engineering in 2013. NYU Tandon’s top cybersecurity students are usually too busy running the world’s biggest student cybersecurity competition to actually compete.

Hailing from Poolesville, Maryland, Christopher attended Poolesville High School, where he developed an early interest in cybersecurity and demonstrated a quality that is mandatory in the field: a refusal to give up on a tough problem. In his high school computer science class, Christopher decided to make an Android application that could help visually impaired people by allowing them to zoom into their mobile keyboards. It didn’t work, and after a few unsuccessful tries, he realized that his project was in danger of tanking unless he quickly took drastic measures. So he hit the books, digging through manual after manual. The night before the project was due, his hard work finally paid off: his application functioned as designed.

Still active in Poolesville’s regional cybersecurity education efforts, Christopher helps run the one day Educational Forensics Competition that uses CSAW HSF Finals evidence, combined with helpful hints to keep beginners engaged. In its first year, 2014, 40 students participated in the event at Montgomery College in Germantown, Maryland. Last year, 140 Maryland high school students participated.

In his spare time, Christopher is an avid basketball player, and he folds origami cranes. He expects to graduate in 2018 from NYU Tandon with a bachelor’s degree in computer science.

kevin-chung.pngKEVIN CHUNG: MENTOR

Kevin graduated from NYU Tandon in 2015. He ran CSAW CTF for two years after having competed in the finals; when he was in high school, he won HSF. He currently works at Bishop Fox. Kevin likes chess.



Brendon Dolan-Gavitt is a postdoctoral researcher at Columbia University in the IDS Lab. His interests lie in the area of systems security, in particular, developing automated techniques for ... Read more


Department of Homeland Security Quiz


Linda Nguyen is this year’s student leader for the NYU CSAW Department of Homeland Security Quiz, a cybersecurity game show sponsored by its namesake, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Working alongside the government unit, Nguyen will introduce control systems as the topic for this year’s competition. Industrial control systems are becoming more prominent in the nation’s critical infrastructure, making the threat of cyberattacks even more of a problem. By collaborating on the topic, CSAW and the Department of Homeland Security hope to raise awareness of the need to protect this particular element of the nation’s infrastructure.

nick-anderson.pngNICK ANDERSON: MENTOR

Nick graduated in December 2014 with a masters in Cyber Security and currently works at Facebook as a Security Engineer. He is secretly a Viking.


trevor-kroeger.pngTREVOR KROEGER: MENTOR

A graduate of NYU Tandon in 2015, Trevor works for Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland mainly working with Embedded Systems. When not watching hockey he enjoys tinkering in Makerspaces and ripping things apart.



Justin Cappos is a tenure-track assistant professor in the Computer Science and Engineering department at New York University. Justin's research philosophy focuses on improving real world systems, often by addressing issues that arise in practical deployments.

Embedded Security Challenge

nektarios-tsoutsos.pngNektarios Tsoutsos: Challenge Lead

For two years, Nektarios Georgios Tsoutsos worked as an adviser in the computer security industry. He designed security policies and conducted gap analyses and security assessments to ensure regulatory compliance for financial institutions and telecommunication providers. Four years ago, he left the industry to return to academia. He is currently a fourth-year computer science doctoral candidate at NYU Tandon School of Engineering and a researcher at NYU Abu Dhabi. Tsoutsos brings his wealth of experience to this year’s CSAW as a student challenge leader in the same competition he won three years ago: the Embedded Security Challenge.

Today we store less of our data on physical devices and upload more to cloud services such as Amazon and Dropbox. With his advisor, Professor Michail Maniatakos at NYU Abu Dhabi, Tsoutsos filed a patent for a novel cloud computing framework called Homomorphically Encrypted One Instruction Computation Systems and Methods (HEROIC), his answer to the recent attacks on cloud services. HEROIC eliminates the need for cloud computing processors to decrypt data prior to processing it. By keeping data encrypted, HEROIC keeps programs and data more secure and eliminates the need for shared cryptographic keys.

Tsoutsos was born in Athens, Greece. His father is a professional violinist and a former concertmaster at the national opera and state orchestra. His mother is a political scientist. When he was six, Nektarios learned how to write computer programs and hasn’t stopped coding since. In addition to being a member of IEEE and MENSA, Nektarios is a recipient of the Deborah Rosenthal, MD Award, given annually by the NYU Tandon Department of Computer Science and Engineering to a single graduate student for outstanding performance on the Ph.D. qualifying examination.

michail-maniatakos.pngMichail Maniatakos: Faculty Guide

Mihalis Maniatakos is an Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at NYU Abu Dhabi. He does NOT enjoy long walks on the beach, due to the poor distance-covered to time ratio. His favorite means of transportation is teleportation.

High School Forensics

Emily Wicki: Challenge Lead

Emily Wicki, this year’s High School Forensics (HSF) student leader, exemplifies how events like CSAW can spark an interest in cybersecurity among students who may never have had an interest in computer science. Emily, who in 2011 became the first young woman to win the HSF challenge, had no computer background whatsoever before she registered for the competition, and even had to teach herself computer science in order to compete. She competed in HSF again as a finalist at the 2012 CSAW HSF.

Emily, now a senior at NYU Tandon majoring in computer science, has been deeply involved in CSAW for years. She began designing evidence for the HSF competition during the summer of 2013 even before she matriculated. That summer she also became involved in the CSAW Cybersecurity Summer Boot Camp for High School Teachers, including helping to write the curriculum.

She regularly speaks about women in cybersecurity at high schools and helps teachers write their cybersecurity curricula, under the aegis of programs like Microsoft TEALS (Technology Education and Literacy in Schools), the Women in Cybersecurity conference (WiCyS), and the Syracuse University Project Advance (SUPA). Emily has also interned at a major global digital forensics firm and at Google’s Incident Response Team. 

meghan-caiazzo.pngMeghan Caiazzo: Mentor

Meghan graduated in December 2014 with a masters in Cyber Security. In 2013 she helped develop evidence for the HSF finals, and in 2014, she ran the entire competition. On a side note, she has a twin brother.

nasir-memon.pngNasir Memon: Faculty Guide

Nasir Memon is a professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering and the founder and director of the Offensive Security, Incident Response and Internet Security laboratory ...  read more


kevin-kirby.pngKevin Kirby: Challenge Lead

Kevin Kirby, the student challenge leader for the 2016 NYU CSAW Policy Competition, is a third-year student at NYU School of Law and recipient of the NYU Law School’s Center on Law and Security ASPIRE Scholarship. Before attending law school, Kirby spent five years as a combat engineer officer in the Army, followed by project management at Starbucks, where he developed requirements for a facilities management software upgrade. Since moving from Seattle to attend NYU, Kirby has done research into products liability and voter privacy issues for NYU Law professors and interned for the Honorable Judge Amit Mehta of the U.S. District Court in D.C.

Last summer, Kirby worked at the Federal Trade Commission in the Bureau of Consumer Protection, which is involved in prosecuting companies with unfair or deceptive data security practices. His interest in the question of what constitutes reasonable security factored into this year’s prompt for the Policy Competition, which asks competitors for policy proposals that would ensure that the true costs of data insecurity are allocated appropriately. When Kirby isn’t researching how much money companies should spend on cybersecurity, you can find him playing chess in Washington Square Park.

zach-goldman.pngZachary Goldman: Faculty Guide

Zachary K. Goldman is the Executive Director of the Center on Law and Security and an Adjunct Professor of Law at NYU School of Law. Previously, Goldman served as a Special Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the U.S. Department of Defense, and as a policy advisor in the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, where he was the subject matter expert on terrorist financing in the Arabian Peninsula and Iran sanctions. In the private sector, he was a litigator at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP in New York. Read more....


kevin-gallagher.pngKevin Gallagher: Challenge Lead

Kevin Gallagher's fascination with cybersecurity began when, as an undergraduate, he began reading articles about cyber attacks, vulnerabilities and defense. The fact that his college didn’t offer a course on the subject hardly deterred him. Gallagher, who is this year’s lead for the Research Competition at CSAW, approached a professor, conducted research and drew up a curriculum for an independent study on “Introduction to Cybersecurity.” The curriculum was approved and Kevin has been hooked on cybersecurity ever since.

A native New Yorker, Kevin went to high school in Queens and earned his bachelor's degree in Computer Science from CUNY's Hunter College. While there, he developed data analytics software for CUNY's Central Office and conducted research at the CUNY Graduate Center on bibliometrics and social networks. He is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in Computer Science at NYU Tandon School of Engineering and will earn his doctorate in 2019. His areas of interest focus on unconventional security areas, namely anonymity, privacy and censorship circumvention.

Kevin helped coordinate last year's CSAW Research Competition and experienced firsthand how CSAW was bridging the gap between academia and the industry.

toan-nguyen.pngToan Nguyen: Mentor

Toan is working toward a PhD in Computer Science with a graduation date of 2017. Last year, he was a co-lead in the CSAW Applied Research Paper Competition; he volunteered in previous years as well. Random fact: he tries to stay away from computers as much as he can.

hossein-siadati.pngHossein Siadati: Mentor

Hossein is a PhD student in Computer Science since 2013. He participated in CSAW for the last two years. Interesting facts: Hossein is a hiker and a chess player! His Erdös Number is 4.

damon-mccoy.pngDamon McCoy: Faculty Guide

Damon earned his bachelors of science in computer science from University of Colorado in 1999; he earned his doctorate in 2009 ...  read more