The Cybersecurity Expert Hacked His College’s Grading System: Neil Daswani

The Cybersecurity Expert Hacked His College’s Grading System: Neil Daswani

My guest for Episode #49 of “the My Favorite Mistake” podcast is Neil Daswani, the author of the newly-released book, Big Breaches: Cybersecurity Lessons for Everyone. Scroll down to see where you can enter to win a free signed copy!



Neil is, among other things, a Co-Director of the Stanford Advanced Security Program, and he earned a PhD in computer science from Stanford. You can learn more about him on his website and his LinkedIn page. He's previously worked for companies including Google, Twitter, LifeLock, and Symantec

In today's episode, Neil shares a “favorite mistake” story from his time in grad school, when he hacked into a grading system… not to change his grades, but because he could. Hear Neil describe the mistake in what he did AFTER getting into the system. Neil also shares knowledge and lessons about ethical hacking and responsible disclosure, the recent Solar Winds hack (and its impact and lessons learned — or should be learned), and the difference between “white hat” vs. “black hat” hackers?

We also get his thoughts on the classic hacking-themed movie from my childhood, “War Games” — should we stream it, or skip it??

Scroll down to find:

  • Audio player
  • Video player
  • Enter to win books from Neil and other guests
  • Quotes
  • How to subscribe
  • Full transcript

You can listen to or watch the episode below. A transcript also follows lower on this page. Please subscribe, rate, and review via Apple Podcasts or Podchaser! You can now sign up to get new episodes via email, to make sure you don't miss an episode. This podcast is part of the Lean Communicators network.

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Quotes:

"It was my favorite mistake because I learned a lot from it. The professor was furious, absolutely furious. I was afraid I was going to get suspended or expelled."

"I learned about when you find security vulnerabilities in real systems, even if it's something as innocuous as a grading system, people can get very upset."

"'War Games'" was an awesome movie. It's definitely not a mistake to watch 'War Games.' Having a PhD in computer science, sometimes, if it's between a computer spitting out an answer with an algorithm and listening to a human, sometimes you want to listen to the human. "

"Solar Winds has been called the 'digital Pearl Harbor,' but I think it's important to keep in mind that Pearl Harbor was a complete surprise. But Solar Winds is definitely not the first third party supply chain compromise."

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Automated Transcript (Likely Contain Mistakes)


Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. His latest book is Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. He also published the anthology Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.