Celebrating Victories: Catching up with the Inaugural Alan Paller Laureate Program Awardees


The Center for Internet Security® (CIS®) launched the Alan Paller Laureate Program in 2023 in honor of Alan Paller, a cybersecurity visionary and trailblazer renowned for his innovative leadership in the field.

The Laureate Program supports U.S. nonprofit organizations, academic institutions, and individuals dedicated to enhancing cybersecurity by making controls more effective, simpler, and automated; developing and equipping highly skilled cyber experts; and enhancing the teaching of cyber defense at every level. The program awards up to $250,000 annually to eligible organizations or individuals whose pilot projects, proofs of concept, or existing programs are selected through a competitive application process. 

In this blog post, we're celebrating the truly awe-inspiring recipients from the 2023 Alan Paller Laureate Program. Their outstanding accomplishments made significant ripples in the pond of cybersecurity, exhibiting innovation and creativity that deserve a standing ovation.

PISCES Program

First up is the Project PISCES (Public Infrastructure Security Cyber Education System) led by the Colorado Cyber Resource Center, a program of the National Cybersecurity Center. The PISCES Program is using their award to expand an existing PISCES program that creates hands-on educational opportunities for students as entry-level cyber analysts. The program also provides a no-cost network monitoring service to small, rural jurisdictions that cannot afford a commercial service. The funding from the Laureate Program supports a significant increase in community and academic partners and in the number of students trained via the PISCES program.

Since receiving the award in May 2023, the PISCES program:

  • Increased the number of students who received training as a cyber analyst by 111%
  • Awarded $250 scholarships to 20 students
  • Created 567 tickets, up 126% from the previous 16 months
  • Added nine new communities that they actively serve (13 total)
  • Helped 439,718 residents protect their data

LA Cybersecure Pilot Program

Next on our list is the LA Cybersecure Pilot Program led by SecureTheVillage, an existing Los Angeles-based cyber nonprofit and several nonprofit partners. The pilot program aims to measurably improve the cybersecurity practices of 50 participating mid-size and smaller organizations based on Implementation Group 1 (IG1) – also known as essential cyber hygiene – of the CIS Critical Security Controls® (CIS Controls®). Together with the SMB Program from the Cyber Readiness Institute and the “Kickstart” program from Sightline Security, the outcome will form the basis for a scalable program to extend the pilot throughout the Los Angeles region.

As an Alan Paller Laureate Program recipient, The LA Cybersecure Program:

  • Established and trained a core team of 18 volunteers and staff (training based on the CRI Cyber Coach Program)
  • Designed a six-month pilot program for SMBs
  • Recruited first cohort group (of 10)
  • Designed a six-month pilot program for IT/MSPs based on IG1 of the CIS Controls v8 (in cooperation with the CIS Controls team)
  • Recruited first cohort group of MSPs
  • Attended numerous promotional events
  • Developed support infrastructure: databases, registration, legal agreements, and marketing materials
  • Developed a program for additional sponsors/funding
  • Completed prelim design of post-Pilot Continuing Cyber-Education Program

SecureTheVillage hopes to use the pilot program as a scalable program to bring cybersecurity to local businesses of Los Angeles. The goal of this brilliant program is straightforward yet so essential – make cybersecurity accessible for all by providing free resources and even face-to-face evaluations with small businesses. The idea here is simple: no business should be left vulnerable because they can't afford high-end security measures. LA Cybersecure Pilot Program steps in as that guardian angel, reducing disparity and ensuring every business can fight back against nefarious online threats no matter their size or budget. Talk about being an equalizer!

Carroll Technology & Innovation Council

Finally, we turn our spotlight to the Carroll Technology & Innovation Council (CTIC) – a county-level technology association nonprofit that stands tall on its mission to bolster regional economic growth through technological advancements. The CTIC is using funding from the Alan Paller Laureate Program to help create a grass-roots program for food supply security through existing 4-H, farm technology education, and Farm Bureau partners across central Maryland. They hope to bring the summer leadership program to other rural areas of Maryland.

Thanks to the Alan Paller Laureate Program, the Carrol Technology and Innovation Council started a summer leadership program around cybersecurity and agriculture aimed at freshmen and sophomores in high school:

  • Enrollment for the first cohort will begin in Summer 2024
  • Curriculum is being developed by Carroll Community College to teach students in rural high schools the importance of cybersecurity in protecting precious agricultural resources
  • The program will create tools that farmers can access for vulnerability testing of their farm technology and business operations along with a security audit process for farmers

Now it’s Your Turn!

The three recipients from the 2023 Alan Paller Laureate Program exemplify the very essence of progress through innovation. Their stellar work in cybersecurity and technology inspires us all and shines brightly as they pave the way forward for future innovators.

CIS is accepting applications for the 2024 Alan Laureate Program until the end of March, with award announcements expected in mid-May.