ESnet cybersecurity staff awarded the first-ever “ESNET”

Three members of the Energy Sciences Network’s Cybersecurity team – Michael Dopheide, Vlad Grigorescu, and Sam Oehlert – were recently honored with an Extra Special Noteworthy Exemplary Trophy Award for their SANS 2019 Holiday Hack Challenge entry.

“SANS is the premier security training organization for our profession. Their annual contest usually has 15,000-20,000 entries. For the past couple of years, our solutions have been used as the official answers and documentation, helping students and professionals around the world to hone their security skills. There is a real impact, and I am very proud of the team,” said Adam Slagell, Energy Sciences Network Chief Security Officer.

Dop Vlad Sam
From left to right: Michael Dopheide, Sam Oehlert, and Vlad Grigorescu

This eponymous award category called the “ESNET,” was created in reverence to the fact that all three team members asked to forgo any competition prizes. Instead, they asked that their prize be awarded to another winner.

“We felt that forgoing the prize was our small way of giving back to the community and rewarding one of the other participants, whose work should not be neglected. Honestly, this is something we look forward to every year. All three of us relish the puzzle-solving element, and our participation is really a labor of love,” said Grigorescu.  “We still felt it was important to share our report and the new techniques and tools for both offensive and defensive security we developed.”

The team notes that the SANS Holiday Hack competition is unique because the goal is to gamify cybersecurity challenges, all of which must be based on current threats. The end result is one of the best, most realistic security training, and it’s available for free, in perpetuity.

“By really pushing the envelope, we felt like we walked away from this year’s competition having significantly advanced our skills and being better able to safeguard the Energy Sciences Network. We’re incredibly honored to have an eponymous award, and to win the inaugural ‘ESNET’ award,” said Grigorescu.

This was Grigorescu’s fifth SANS Holiday Hack Competition and the fourth for Dopheide and Oehlert. All three were part of the Energy Sciences Network team that won the 2018 Grand Prize. Grigorescu’s teams also won an Honorable Mention in 2015, Best Technical Answer in 2016, and a Grand Prize in 2017.

Written by Linda Vu, Berkeley Lab Computing Sciences


Patty Giuntoli: Learning at the Speed of Life

Patty Giuntoli
Patty Giuntoli

On January 20, 2009, Patty Giuntoli was sitting in a human resources office at Berkeley Lab watching President Barack Obama being sworn in as the 44th President of the United States. Like him, she was starting a new job in public service too. 

Giuntoli was going to be the new director of infrastructure in Berkeley Lab’s IT division, managing the group in charge of Berkeley Lab’s local area network, desktop support, and telephone system. In 2011, she joined the Lab’s Scientific Networking division / Energy Sciences Network (ESnet) as the department head of networking and systems, where she helped design ESnet’s next-generation network, called ESnet6, and worked to shepherd it through the Department of Energy’s approval process into fruition.

Now after 11 years of Lab service, Giuntoli will be retiring on February 25.

“It wasn’t the mission that initially brought me to Berkeley Lab. I just saw the posting on LinkedIn and applied. But it was the mission that kept me here, longer than any other job in my career,” said Giuntoli. “One of the unique things about research and education that I really enjoy is the cross-collaboration. The ultimate focus is on a shared destiny – advancing science – and the mission transcends individual organizations.”

A second-generation San Franciscan, Giuntoli’s path to networking wasn’t straightforward. She received a B.S. in biophysics at the University of San Francisco and thought that she’d pursue a career in research. But the project that she hoped to work on after college didn’t receive the funding it needed, so she moved back home and looked for any job to bide time until another research opportunity.

Giuntoli would end up at GTE Lenkurt in San Carlos, working with microwave communications systems. This job marked the beginning of her 30 plus career in networking, which included stints as a telecom engineer at Bechtel, director at PG&E, VP at Oracle Corporation, and director of network services at Kaiser Permanente. Her management experience includes establishing and leading multi-functional, global organizations of over 500 people, developing and implementing business plans, technical and service strategies, and business and operational processes.

In addition to working on the ESnet6 project, Giuntoli notes that one of her greatest accomplishments at Berkeley Lab has been hiring new people into ESnet.

“I really enjoyed bringing new people in ESnet, hiring people from the outside that brought a different perspective and allowed us to get a mix of ideas. I liked putting mechanisms in place that encouraged people to think about things differently,” said Giuntoli. “This is actually what I’m going to miss most about working at ESnet – the people.”

Her advice to future generations? Act fast and don’t be afraid to fail.

“I see it as failing forward, a gift, you are learning something new every time. One thing that has been interesting to watch in research and education is how slow things move because people are waiting for things to be perfect. I say move faster and learn at the speed of life. Maybe one in 10 ideas will be a success, but that’s okay. Take a chance and put it out there,” said Giuntoli.

In retirement, Giuntoli hopes to spend more time with her grandchildren, playing golf, and painting landscapes.

Written by Linda Vu, Berkeley Lab Computing Sciences