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Gerald Auger wins Wild West Hackin’ Fest award

February 1, 2024

Gerald Auger has built his brand: Simply Cyber. Through a YouTube channel, he shares information, builds community, and helps others launch careers in cybersecurity.

Fast talking, quick thinking, Auger describes himself as a “mentor at scale.”

“I take questions the community has and make videos,” he said. He has developed a resource library which includes more than 1,000 videos. When contacted with questions, he has a ready response.

“I almost always say, ‘I have a video for that,” Auger said.

Recently, Auger, who earned two advanced degrees from Dakota State University, was recognized at the Wild West Hackin’ Fest in Deadwood for those efforts. John Strand, security analyst and owner of Black Hills Information Security, one of the conference sponsors, awarded Auger the Rita Award.

In making the award, which Strand named for his mother, he described her as a woman who helped others and put a positive spin on everything. He said the individual receiving the award embodied the spirit of his mother.

“It was overwhelming to think that all these sacrifices meant something,” Auger said about receiving the award.

Since earning a master’s degree in Information Assurance in 2011 and a Ph.D. in Cyber Operations in 2019, both from DSU, he has worked to help others enter the field of cybersecurity and gain the knowledge they need to succeed. Until recently, he has done this while also working full-time in the field.

Simply Cyber, Auger’s YouTube channel, has more than 103,000 subscribers. Not only does he offer videos and podcasts through the channel, but he also uses it to begin each day with a live, one-hour “Daily Cyber Threat Brief.”  The format is simple.

“Here’s the story. Here’s what you need to know,” Auger said. He explained that cybercriminals are always changing their techniques, and cybersecurity experts need to stay abreast of emerging threats.

“I was doing this anyway. It wasn’t that much more effort to hit ‘Go Live,’” he said. An estimated 450 people watch the 8 a.m. EST broadcast live, and another 2,000 watch the recording at a later time.

The daily briefing is followed by a 30-minute Q&A session called “Jaw Jacking,” where he takes questions. In addition to what he does through his YouTube channel, Auger offers educational opportunities through the Simply Cyber school.

The first course he developed provided interested individuals with the training to work as a GRC (governance risk and compliance) analyst. He’s currently developing a course which will provide foundational information for those interested in cybersecurity.

Auger said most people don’t understand how complex the field is. They say they want to work in cybersecurity but don’t understand that this is comparable to saying they want to work in science. He wants to help people answer the question: what do you want to do in cybersecurity?

Auger indicated he will be expanding his outreach efforts with a late-night talk show where he discusses cyber issues with guests. He recently entered a deal that will give him his own set and couch.

Kyle Cronin, who was Auger’s dissertation chair at DSU, isn’t surprised by either the direction his career has taken or the passion he brings to it.


“He’s a fellow with a lot of ambition. He wants to help make things better,” Cronin said.

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