Our team is thrilled to announce that we have selected three finalists for the 2019 LastPass STEM scholarship.
Earlier this year, we announced that LastPass was teaming up with LogMeIn’s corporate responsibility program, Mission Possible, to launch the LastPass STEM scholarship. By submitting the application and responding to our essay prompt, high school seniors and currently enrolled college students studying or intending to study STEM fields were eligible to win $10,000 towards tuition and $2,000 towards books. We will be announcing our final scholarship winner on July 1st.
We want to thank all the students who applied for this year’s scholarship, and all those in our community who helped to raise awareness of the scholarship. We received 145 applications from students across the United States, studying fields ranging from mechanical engineering to computer science to biology and more.
We were particularly impressed by the thoughtful, unique responses to our essay prompt. We asked students to consider the link between human behavior and technology, and what it says about the future of security. Many students pointed to the biases, attitudes, and learned behaviors that make people lazy when it comes to online security. Others pointed to misplaced trust and an overreliance on technology itself to provide security.
“In the minds of many, the threat of data theft does not register into the subconscious, even if one rationally acknowledges the risk,” wrote finalist Samantha L. “One can consider other risks that frequently go unmitigated. For example, one might ask why so many people refuse to buckle their seatbelts, or perhaps why it may be that people start smoking despite knowing the health hazards? These issues, while different in topics, are similar in nature.”
In other words, human psychology can explain why we continue to do things that we know are bad for us or aren’t helpful in the long term, and the world of cybersecurity is no different.
“We want technology to improve our lives. To make it easier, make it happier, and allow us more time to do the things we care about. We do not want technology to be another thing we have to worry about or waste time understanding or fixing,” wrote another finalist, Jessa K. “[…] In order to more effectively protect us from digital threats, there are two challenges that need to be tackled. First is raising awareness of the importance of cybersecurity. […] The second challenge is to make cybersecurity easy. To have it work in the background, to take the burden off the user, to make it a task they can hand off to trusted experts.”
What does that mean for the future of cybersecurity? Many of our applicants pointed to technologies like password managers, multifactor authentication, biometrics, and artificial intelligence that can already be leveraged to improve personal cybersecurity. Others pointed to the need for security to be built-in to technologies whenever possible and reduce the impact that any human behaviors or errors can have.
“The solution for cyber security is to recognize how human behavior is linked to technology, and to balance technology’s ability to improve security against the lazy tendencies of humans,” wrote finalist Joseph J. “Without technology improvements in cyber security, people will continue to fall prey to cyber threats like phishing scams. Therefore, technology must improve by constructing new processes that help people increase their cyber security, while simultaneously acknowledging and addressing the tendencies of humans to resist change.”
With so many well-written responses, choosing our three finalists was tough! Now, the three finalists will now be submitted videos in which they discuss why they chose a STEM major and what impact they hope to make with their education. We look forward to sharing our final winner on July 1, be sure to check our official scholarship page for the announcement!