Friday, March 1, 2024

Crypto Module Bootcamp 2024

On Tuesday, February 27, 2024, atsec information security hosted a free day-long hybrid event on the Concordia University campus in Austin, TX. With 330 registered attendees, both in-person and remote, we have by far surpassed our original attendance estimate.

When atsec started the International Cryptographic Module Conference (ICMC) in 2013, we wanted to create a forum for the stakeholders in the crypto module world to come together. The ICMC has flourished over the last ten years and is now a well-established and highly regarded conference for IT security professionals. However, the cost involved in traveling and attending the conference has closed the door to students and attendees from academia.

It is important to us to make events like these easily available to college students. Those students will soon become laboratory testers, agency validators, and developers – the next generation of IT professionals. We have taken pride in educating and lifting up the IT security community, including those studying for the future.

The bootcamp is an event intended to carry out our idea of attracting a new group of attendees: the STEM students. We started with Concordia and UT Austin. We are pleased to have created the opportunity for students, who could be our future colleagues, to interact with industry and government leaders, as well as policy makers, without meeting and travel expenses.

The Crypto Module Bootcamp brought students together with experts from academia, industry, government, standards bodies and laboratories for an exchange on topics including artificial intelligence, quantum computers, cryptography, entropy and much more. We wanted to make sure the students got a glimpse of what the world of IT security entails and showcase the variety of ways it touches our lives.

The event opened with a welcome address by atsec president and co-founder Sal La Pietra, followed by an introduction of the first recipient of the Bertrand du Castel Memorial Scholarship. Keynote speaker Professor Scott Aaronson took the stage with a very informative and entertaining presentation about the use of cryptography for Safe AI.

This was followed by a panel discussion on Safe AI and Secure Cyberspace with Prof. Scott Aaronson; NIST Fellow Dr. Lily Chen; Eric Hibbard, Head of US INCITS delegation for ISO/IEC JTC1/SC27; and the Director of NIAP, Jon Rolf. Dr. Yi Mao, atsec US CEO, moderated the panel discussion.


The event was perceived as a combination of mini ICMC and mini ICCC, with topics ranging from AI safety to the connected car. An attendee commented, “Its significance is far beyond cryptographic modules. It touched on many aspects for the future cryptographic standards and validation program.” You can find the complete line-up of speakers and panelists, as well as a list of the presentations here at the event website.

After a full day of presentations and discussions, the day ended with a tour of the beautiful Concordia University nature preserve. The overwhelmingly positive feedback and questions about making this a recurring event showed us that we are on the right track. We would like to thank Concordia University, the guest speakers, and all of the participants for making the first bootcamp such a success.

This event was also put together in memory of our friend and colleague, Dr. Betrand du Castel. His wife, Christine, gave a heartfelt speech commemorating his life. We invite you to read our blog article on Bertrand du Castel and his exceptional contributions to the field of smart card security. We took the opportunity to collect some deeply touching stories and insightful quotes from a few of Bertrand’s former colleagues and friends.

On behalf of Concordia University, who generously opened their campus for this event, we invite you to donate to their STEM program.

Donations can be made online at
Please put “du Castel” in the comments.
Or you can mail a check to:
Concordia University Texas
11400 Concordia University Drive
Austin, Texas 78726
For more information, please contact
April Kerwin at or 512-313-5101

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