ASU Capital Scholar forms lasting relationships in Washington, DC

September 7, 2017

This June, Arizona State University political science major Suzette Warren traded in the 100-degree desert heat for the fast-paced 65 of Washington, D.C., as part of the Capital Scholars Program internship program.

Students in the program intern over the summer while earning six upper-division credits. The field and location of the internship can vary greatly, from government agencies to nonprofit organizations. Warren was interning at the Madison Group, a Washington, D.C.-based lobbying firm. The U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Suzette Warren, political science major and Capital Scholar, spent the summer working as an intern for the Madison Group, a Washington, D.C.-based lobbying firm. Download Full Image

Like many interns in the nation’s capital, Warren was thrown right into the mix, having to adapt quickly. She described the experience as organized chaos in the blog that students are asked to contribute to during their internship.

“While America runs on Dunkin’, Washington, D.C., runs on interns,” Warren said.

A typical day at the firm for Warren was going to meetings and taking notes on issues pertaining to clients. The group also went on tours of the area and learned fun facts such as the highest court in the land is actually the basketball court on the floor above the Supreme Court.

Mainly the students experienced life working and living in Washington, from the frustrations of the Metro breaking down during the day to tagging along with your boss as he lobbies at Charlie Palmer’s Steak restaurant at night.

Although she was 2,000 miles away from home, Warren said she saw Sun Devils everywhere she went. Her employer is a Sun Devil, people she met at events were Sun Devils and even random people on the Metro yelling, “Go ASU!” as they raised up their pitchforks were Sun Devils.

Another ASU alumnus, Matt Caruso, who completed the Capital Scholar program 20 years ago, even had the group over for dinner. Warren found relationships like this were special. There were people all over who were eager to offer assistance and advice during her stay in Washington.

ASU student Suzette WarrenSuzette Warren

“Without that support it would have been a lot harder for us," Warren said. "Everybody needs a home-cooked meal once in a while.”

One of the more memorable pieces of advice Warren received was from a lobbyist. He explained that networking, specifically fostering relationships, was key. 

“It goes far beyond handing someone your business card and sending a few emails back and forth,” Warren said. “You need to care about the person, genuinely.”

Now back in Tempe, Warren said experiences she had in Washington are being taught in the classroom. Reading about environmental issues is one thing, but seeing it firsthand in Congress is the best experience you can have, according to Warren.

Warren feels so strongly about her experience in the Capital Scholars Program that she is making classroom visits to spread the word. She tells fellow Sun Devils that this program is great even if you aren’t a political science major. 

An example she gives is when she met a policy adviser at Google. Warren said she had never imagined working at a tech company, but through programs like this and through the power of networking she realized that there were opportunities everywhere she looked.

Based on advice she received in Washington, Warren vows to keep working, even if she feels like she is already at the top.

“I will continuously strive to be better than my best.”

Matt Oxford

Manager of marketing and communications, School of Politics and Global Studies


Q&A: Are consumer data breaches the new normal?

ASU global security expert Jamie Winterton weighs in on recent Equifax breach

September 7, 2017

On Sept. 7, Equifax Inc. announced a breach of data impacting about 143 million U.S. customers. The information affected includes names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and some driver’s license numbers.

ASU Now spoke with Jamie Winterton, director of strategy in ASU’s Global Security Initiative, to learn more about why breaches are so common and what impacts consumers face as a result.  binary code Download Full Image

Question: Data breaches have become so common. Should consumers consider these instances to be a new normal?

Answer: I wish I could say no, but, unfortunately, data breaches are a fairly common event. And the numbers are staggering. The Equifax breach affected 134 million people — that’s almost half the population of the U.S.

Perhaps more concerning is that consumers aren’t always notified immediately when their data has been compromised. Equifax mentioned in the press release that the files were accessed sometime between mid-May and July, through an unspecified web-based vulnerability. So, several months passed where an affected individual’s data could’ve been used for identity theft.

Q: What kinds of challenges exist for cybersecurity professionals who are trying to stay a step ahead of hackers?

 Global Security Initiative
Jamie Winterton

A: Hackers are incredibly creative — there’s a saying that “red team only has to be right once.” This means that, for all the security protections a company takes, a hacker just needs to find one vulnerability to exploit. Staying on top of all the potential methods of attack is one challenge.

Another challenge is that companies often don’t prioritize cybersecurity until it’s too late. We’re still too vulnerable to known methods of compromise. We don’t yet know the exact methods that the Equifax hackers used, but most often, hackers compromise a network by exploiting known security issues in the system. It’s very unusual that a hacker will have to use a brand-new method of breaking in (also known as a “zero day”). It can be difficult for information security professionals to keep security at the top of the list, when there are so many other pressing business needs for a company to address.  

Q: Equifax has created a website to help consumers determine whether their information has been comprised and is offering identity theft protection. Is there anything else consumers can actively do to prevent damage in these situations?

A: First, never use any personal data in your passwords. Too many people still use their date of birth, middle name or some combination of information that is easy to reconstruct from these breaches. Identity theft protection is a good idea, especially if you’ve been breached — it won’t stop someone from using your data, but it will alert you to suspicious activity, like loans being taken out in your name, or unusual credit card activity. Finally, be aware of things like your credit score and credit history. The longer it takes to find malicious activity, the longer it takes to recover.