Geoff Yang, NPSF Advisory Council Member
Co-Founder of Redpoint Ventures

Geoff Yang co-founded venture capital firm Redpoint Ventures in 1999. Since then, he has backed companies from their founding, including Arista, Ask.com, Bluefin, Calix, Efficient Frontier, Foundry Networks, Excite, Juniper Networks, Machinima, MySpace, and TiVo. Geoff has served as a member of the Advisory Council for the Stanford Graduate School of Business, chairman of the Stanford Engineering Venture Fund, director of the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA), president of the Western Association of Venture Capitalists (WAVC), and a member of the President’s Information Technology Advisory Committee for the United States.

What led you to co-found Redpoint Ventures? 
When we founded Redpoint, we could see the importance the internet was going to have on the technology industry. I felt that a new firm with a dedicated approach and senior investors focused exclusively on the future of the internet could succeed.

You have funded several successful companies from their beginnings. What do you look for in a company to determine whether it will be successful?  
I look for two things. The first is passionate, driven entrepreneurs who want to change the work and have a clear vision on how to do it. The second is a huge, or potentially huge, market that can be created with major disruption.  The harder the problem and the larger the market, the more interested I am.

What did you learn from your time serving on the President’s Information Technology Advisory Committee for the United States?
Hackers are commonly divided into three hats: white, gray and black. These colors serve as broad labels describing hackers' typical behavior — from those who act from high moral standards (white), to those who act maliciously (black) and those who fall somewhere in between (gray). When it comes to security, one major observation is that there are more black hats than white hats in the world. That’s why the white hats have to be more innovative, forward-thinking, and progressive.

Why did you decide to join the NPSF Advisory Council?
I learned about the impact NPS has on its students in innovation, cross disciplinary thinking, and leading-edge technical approaches to the hardest problems in the Navy. I’ve been incredibly impressed by the intellect and drive of the people I met. I have had the opportunity in the past to meet some of the most innovative entrepreneurs in the technology industry. The students here are equally driven with an intense passion to serve their country. I find that incredibly inspiring. I hope I can help bring some of the best ideas and people to make NPS an even better place.

NPS is beginning to facilitate more meaningful partnerships with private industry. Given your background in private industry, what are the potential benefits of partnerships like these?
Some of the latest technologies are best applied to difficult problems with lots of scale and real-time decision making. Many of these problems are in defense applications. Examples of that are in AI, machine learning, quantum computing and data analytics. Coupling commercial approaches with defense problems may create very beneficial partnerships.

 
 

Dr. Dorothy Denning, Former NPS Faculty  
Emeritus Distinguished Professor in Department of Defense Analysis 

As a renowned expert in cybersecurity, Dr. Dorothy Denning has authored more than 200 articles, published four books and testified several times before congressional subcommittees studying cyberterrorism. She was inducted into the National Cyber Security Hall of Fame in 2012 after nearly a decade of teaching in the Department of Defense Analysis at NPS. Recently, Dr. Denning was recognized for her many years of service to the cybersecurity community with a "CyBear" character named in her honor. The CyBears are part of the University of Texas at San Antonio's Center for Infrastructure Assurance and Security (CIAS) Culture of Cybersecurity Campaign. 

Your addition to the “CyBear” family is occurring alongside a partnership between CIAS and the MITRE Corporation to implement a national program that reaches students in grades K-12. What would you like to see in the future of cybersecurity education?
When I first got into cybersecurity in the early '70s, the average person didn’t have to worry about it. Families didn’t even have computers, let alone smart phones and other devices connected to a global internet. Now cybersecurity is a huge issue affecting all of us. Young people need to learn about it in the same way they learn about physical security – locking doors and bikes, not accepting rides with strangers, etc.

You’ve said, "Russia has many skilled cyberoperators, and for good reason: Their educational system emphasizes information technology and computer science, more so than in the U.S." What can institutions, like NPS, do to compete with countries like Russia in this arena? 
NPS already has many excellent programs in these areas and a wealth of expertise scattered across a wide range of disciplines and departments, including computer science, computer engineering, information science, defense analysis, and national security affairs. It has been at the forefront of cybersecurity for decades, and a team is currently working on a new approach to teaching a “cyber for all” course.

How would you describe your teaching experience at NPS from 2002 to 2016? 
Teaching at NPS after coming from Georgetown was very challenging for me. I still remember my first course. After the first couple of weeks, some students came in to tell me I needed to make the course more relevant to them as military students. After that, I focused on what was important for them to learn. I’ve had the good fortune of having great students everywhere I taught, and NPS students were among the best. They were reliable and engaged with their work, and I learned from the experiences they shared in the classroom. It was a joy teaching them.

In your opinion, what are some common misconceptions about cybersecurity practices and threats and how would you address them?  
One misconception, still apparently held by the DoD, is that regularly changing your password is necessary for security. It isn’t, and it only annoys users. Indeed, users typically resort to following simple rules to change their passwords, making them less, not more, secure.

Another misconception is that strong cryptography can solve all our security problems. It can’t and is rarely the weak link. We humans are the weakest link. We fail to install security updates and are duped to click on links, open attachments, install malicious apps, or hand over passwords and account information to scammers.

What are you most concerned about in the realm of cybersecurity right now?  
There are many things to be concerned about. But ransomware is certainly a big one. It can shut down hospitals and other critical operations, or ruin your day by encrypting all of your data and making it inaccessible. Even if you fork over hundreds or thousands of dollars in bitcoins, you may not get your data back.

Of all you have accomplished in your career in cybersecurity, what are you most proud of and why?  My books, Cryptography and Data Security (1982) and Information Warfare and Security (1999). They both offered one of the first scholarly, comprehensive treatments of their topic areas. Both areas have grown so much I couldn’t write either now.

 
 

Lieutenant Vikram Kanth, Student
U.S. Navy

When Lieutenant Vikram Kanth completes his PhD and graduates from NPS in 2022, he will have spent nearly a decade of his military career as a student. Kanth graduated from the Naval Academy in 2015 and earned his master’s degree in electrical engineering from NPS in 2019. While his 9+ years in military education have given him access to ‘extraordinary’ faculty members and fellow students, he says it’s the type of real-world application that makes military education so unique.  

“I think the greatest strength of the military education system is that we tie what we learn in the classroom to real warfighter requirements,” Kanth says. “Both at the Naval Academy and at NPS, I have had the privilege of working with warfighters to develop products that they can use. This focus on the real world has provided direction and inspiration during my late nights sitting in front of a computer or staring at an engineering textbook before an exam.” 

Another source of inspiration and motivation for Kanth dates back to a formative childhood experience, his citizenship ceremony. Kanth immigrated to the U.S. with his parents when he was just two months old. He became a citizen when he was in third grade. “I knew after that ceremony that I wanted to serve in some capacity. When I was in high school, I got in contact with the Naval Academy and it seemed to be a perfect match. I had an opportunity to serve, get a world class education, and broaden my horizons. I can say almost a decade after having made that decision, I am deeply grateful and indebted to the Navy and the Naval Academy.”

Since beginning at NPS, much of Kanth’s work has been focused on emerging technologies, like blockchain. “My master’s thesis topic was ‘Blockchain for use in collaborative intrusion detection systems. Now, my dissertation topic uses blockchain as a backdrop to explore a secure communications paradigm in an emerging age of anonymity.”

While Kanth is interested in the subject, he acknowledges that the benefits of his research extend well beyond becoming a subject matter expert on blockchain. “I’ve been continuously told that the purpose of a PhD is not necessarily the research that I am conducting now, but rather the method of breaking down and solving problems,” he says. “The ability to concisely communicate complex technical topics is essential in both my degree work and in my job as a Cryptologic Warfare Officer. My experience at NPS has given me confidence that I will be able to meet the technical challenges of an increasingly complex battlespace.”

 
 

Dan Temple, Alumnus and Faculty
U.S. Marine Corps, Retired

Dan Temple joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1991 after completing the University of Pennsylvania's Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) Program and graduating from Temple University. His military career took him overseas for a combined 10 years of service throughout Asia in various leadership roles where he honed skills in operations and logistics, security policies and international relations. In 2007, he earned his master’s degree in international affairs at NPS.

“NPS was a much-needed break from the operating forces and Monterey was unlike any of my previous duty stations,” he says. “Being at NPS gave me the time to reconnect with family, friends, and American culture after a three-year tour overseas. After graduation, I was stationed in Okinawa, Japan, with III Marine Expeditionary Force as an Exercise Planner. The knowledge I gained from NPS proved invaluable on a daily basis as I worked with partner nations to organize major training events.”

After retiring from the Marine Corps in 2015, Temple came back to NPS as a program manager for the Energy Academic Group (EAG), where he focuses on energy education programs that promote positive change toward more effective and efficient use of energy within the Department of Defense (DoD).

“My work at the EAG has been a mix of creating and delivering courses on Energy Security for DoD and NATO audiences, conducting energy research on micro-grids and renewable energy technology, and participating in the creation of an energy-focused community of interest,” he says.

Working at NPS and living just minutes away in Pacific Grove, Temple often commutes to work on his bike. Last February, a serious accident left him with a shattered left hip, five shattered vertebrae in his lower back and a broken neck. It took him more than four months to learn how to walk again, and he was unable to work for six months due to the extent of his injuries and rehabilitation requirements.

“I was considering quitting my job at NPS so I could focus on my recovery when the NPS HR Office reached out to me about the the Voluntary Leave Transfer Program. Thanks to many anonymous leave donors, I was able to retain my job while focusing on my recovery. I would not have kept my job without the generosity of these donors and cannot thank them enough.”

As of October, Temple is finished with surgeries, nearly pain-free, walking normally and even back to riding his bike again. “I’m anxious to get back to 'normal' and work in-person with my colleagues at NPS and tackle challenging energy issues," he says. 

 
 

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