Dalia O’Keeffe

Mary Louis Academy
Class of 2024

Received a thorough hands-on introduction to Linux and other cybersecurity software including WireShark.

Worked with global experts from various cybersecurity fields to learn advanced concepts including firewall establishment, CIA Triads, Threat Detection/Analysis, Training Recommendations, and Legal Policies.

Created a cybersecurity protocol proposal for a growing company to best protect their client’s data and personal information using network and physical security recommendations.

Learn more about Dalia here.

Dalia is thrilled to be a part of the Cybersecurity and Intelligence Internship. She is excited to work with fellow students exploring the digital realm of protection by learning about hacking and its prevention. Computer sciences have always been interesting to her, from eighth grade when she coded games into her calculator to now, as she wraps up a year of AP Computer Science (still coding games into her calculator)

Dalia studies in various honors level courses, including Advanced Placement, as a junior at the Mary Louis Academy. She is a member of the National Honor Society, and has won an honorable mention award in the Scholastic art competition. After school, she participates in Speech and Debate, the theater, and her school newspaper, the Mariel. In addition to academic endeavors, Dalia is also a member of the swim team. She is an enthusiastic member of the Girl Scouts, as well as a choir member for her local church. In her future endeavors, Dalia plans to pursue a career involving writing. She will accomplish this by studying English. Her current goals are to experiment with different career opportunities, including writing and how it intersects with cybersecurity.

Dalia is looking forward to the experience of learning more about cybersecurity and how it is utilized. She hopes to explore this topic with similarly enthusiastic peers, and find a connection and understanding of the field.

Read more about Dalia’s achievements here.

Business Partner Overview

Business Collaboration

Quick Facts

The Leadership Institute was founded in 1979 by Morton C. Blackwell to increase the effectiveness of conservative activists in the United States. The organization offers over 44 different types of training nationwide and over 160,000 students have benefited from the service provided.

Apart from various programs, the Leadership Institute has subprograms that help students better establish themselves, particularly their newscasting program Campus Reform which exposes the “liberal bias and abuse on the nation’s college campuses.”

The organization also works to teach political technology by providing counsel on how to live in a world of cancel culture and social media. While the Leadership Institute is one of the largest conservative think tanks in the nation, its network extends beyond the United States.

Business Collaboration

About the Owner

Bryan Bernys is the Vice President of Campus Programs at the Leadership Institute. He began working with the organization in 2007 as the Director of Political training. Mr. Bernys has held his current title for the past 12 years, helping implement training programs and other activities. He attended American University and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications, Law, Economics, and Government (CLEG) in 2004.

Mr. Bernys is currently the Vice President for Campus Reform, one of the Leadership Institute’s newcasting programs. Bryan Bernys works alongside students to report information and issues that conservatives face in the higher education system. Mr. Beryns oversees and manages all of the Leadership Institute’s campus programs and flagship training programs to help build better conservative leaders.

Business Collaboration

About the Business

Leadership Institute is a 501(c)(3) politically conservative non-partisan non-profit organization. Their main facility is located in Arlington, Virginia, but they hold meetings all over the country and in other countries. They work with people of all ages to help them grow in government, communication, media, and character.

Leadership Institute focuses on raising the future conservative leaders of tomorrow by providing them with lessons in public policy, writing, and legislation work to name a few. The organization works to help influence both the minds and lives of the nation’s youth through workshops, classes, training, and lectures. They help them gain experience in activism and leadership while also providing opportunities such as the opportunity to have more conservative speakers on campus.

Business Collaboration

Current Vulnerabilities

The Leadership Institute is a politically conservative organization that frequently experiences cyber attacks from outside entities. The majority of these attacks are one-time offenders who target events supported by the organization. The Leadership Institute outsources its event tickets to other companies, especially Eventbrite. Over the years, hackers have set up bots to buy all the tickets to an event, crash the website, or make it impossible for students who want to attend guest lectures to acquire tickets.

Bots flooding ticket sales have led to large amounts of complaints. These complaints cause the system to shut down and cause registration to shut down completely. The organization’s main website is just as targeted by cyberattacks. Hackers have gained access to the website’s system and shut it down to cease the spread of training, lessons, and other services provided.

My Security

Our goals for our proposal were to address the main cyber security concerns of our partner business, as well as threats we identified through SWOT analysis and the CIA triad.

Our solution implements two-factor authentication, employee training, and emergency recovery protocols in order to protect client information. These extra layers of security will protect any personal information from clients being accessed or compromised by hackers./p>

Our proposal was successfully granted, allowing us to implement our solution for our non-profit. This will ensure that our partner is no longer at a high risk of DoS attacks, botting, and other threats, protecting them for years to come.

My Security

During the Cybersecurity & Defense Internship, I worked with Beth Cerrone and Jamie Kreider to learn about the basics of cybersecurity, and potential career pathways within it.

Throughout the week, I worked with a company to develop cybersecurity solutions to protect against various cyber threats. I worked with my team to analyze the threats to the business, and then developed a comprehensive solution. At the end of the week, I presented my cybersecurity solution to a panel of three judges and received grant money to implement the solution.

Internship Highlights

I was given the unique opportunity to take exclusive tours of multiple government and security sites to speak directly with security professionals. During these tours, I was able to witness first-hand how cybersecurity operates at the national and international level.

First, I received an exclusive tour of the United States Pentagon where I was able to view the interior of the Pentagon as well as see some of the different meeting rooms throughout the Department of Defense.

We also toured the Department of Homeland Securities’ Cybercrimes Center where we received classified tours of the cyber crimes unit of the DHS and learned how Homeland Security uses cyber intelligence to track major crimes such as drug smuggling, human trafficking, and major theft.

In order to apply the skills I learned throughout the internship, I worked directly with an aspiring entrepreneur based in the Washington D.C. area to discuss their companies cybersecurity needs.

After three meetings where I walked through the business model, protected information, and staff training of the companies, I worked with my team to create a staff training protocol and threat analysis for my business partner.

At the end of the internship, I advocated for, and received funding for, my business partner to implement the cybersecurity training protocols so they can best protect their client information and continue to develop with a reduced fear of cyber attacks and cybersecurity threats.

To learn more about the world of cybersecurity, I was given the unique opportunity to speak directly with cybersecurity experts from multiple different organizations and backgrounds.

I worked directly with one of the leading consultants in Cyber Threat Management, and a consultant for cyber policy for the National Counterintelligence Executive, Phuong Nguyen, to learn about common threat assessment and cybersecurity counterintelligence. I also heard from the global leader in Firewall Creation, David Balenson; the author of the most widely-regarded O’Reilly book on cybersecurity, Michael Collins; and the lead SME for the FutureG Initiative for the Department of Defense.

Throughout the internship, I also heard presentations from, and spoke with, representatives from the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, and the National Security Agency. To learn the physical side of cybersecurity, we also had the unique opportunity to meet with globally-recognized penetration testers and network threat assessors.

In order to put the skills we learned to the test, I had the unique opportunity to use a cybersecurity software used for graduate instructional courses to learn a myriad of cybersecurity skills.

Starting with network cybersecurity, I worked through labs dedicated to network security and linux to understand how networks communicate with each other and how cybersecurity poses a threat to this communication. I used these Linux skills to complete capture-the-flag coding competitions as well as virtual rooms.

At the end of the internship, I worked with an expert from a leading cybersecurity consulting firm to learn how to built ethernet cables. I used ethernet cord, crimpers, and wire strippers to produce functioning ethernet cables.