Thwarting Cyber Threats

Gianna Fazio ’19 M.S. ’21

Cybercriminals are launching daily attacks on our nation’s banks, looking to spread chaos across the financial system and in the lives of ordinary people. But in the heart of New York’s financial district, Gianna Fazio ’19 M.S. ’21 and her determined team are fighting back. 

Fazio is a cybersecurity risk examiner with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. One of the youngest of her group, she leads formal cybersecurity exams and regular check-ins with some 50 New York-based banks, evaluating how they handle cybersecurity attacks and how prepared they are for future threats. 

Her team’s mission: to ensure that banks withstand cyber threats and to help maintain the stability of the U.S. financial system. There’s no room for complacency. 

“The second you’re really used to something, a technology changes or something new is out there,” she says of cybercriminals’ methods. “You’re always on the balls of your feet.” 

Fazio, who joined the New York Fed in 2021, won a CyberCorps Scholarship for Service, a National Science Foundation-funded program that enabled her to study cybersecurity at Stevens, where she earned an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering and a master’s in computer science. 

Her career path is deeply personal. “I always have this little voice in my head that’s asking if what I’m doing is actually making any difference,” Fazio says. 

Her drive to serve is inspired by her father, New York City Firefighter Paul Fazio, who rushed to the second burning tower of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, and spent many months volunteering with the recovery effort. 

The New York Fed is a short walk from the World Trade Center Memorial; Fazio spends every lunch break there. 

“When you have a parent who risked his life for people he doesn’t know, it brings a lot of pride to being a New Yorker and to knowing that you have a country that will always come to help you,” she says. 

 — Beth Kissinger