NDSU Students Legally Hack Into University’s Network

Students found a few vulnerabilities in the system

FARGO, N.D. — Computer hacking may not sound like something that’s encouraged, but an NDSU computer science event let students test out their hacking skills.

Students legally hacked the university’s network to find vulnerabilities in the system. The penetration testing exercise is designed for students to apply skills to a real–world network.

“This is very important because this helps companies and governments and any type of organization discover what might be wrong with their network,” Jeremy Straub, computer science professor, said.

Students did find a few things that are not secure in the system, but nothing major. Those issues will be fixed by the IT department, which actually came up with the idea to do the exercise.

“It surprised me how secure NDSU’s systems were. They were strong. There’s lots of places where it could be vulnerable. It’s nice to see it wasn’t very vulnerable,” Taylor Schmidt, a computer science major, said.

One of the ways hackers look for vulnerabilities is to scan for network traffic. After scanning a system for something that’s exploitable, that’s when a hacker can do an attack.

Computer science professors say students are taught extensively about hacking ethics in their curriculum. Events likes these are also designed to get more students involved in the cybersecurity field.

Straub says about a third of cybersecurity jobs nationwide are unfilled. In some cases there are people in positions they aren’t fully qualified for.

“With so many different threats we’re seeing them every few days on the news, some system here getting hacked, some system there getting hacked, now there’s so many of them a lot of the medium-sized ones don’t get reported. We need people to really help us secure these systems,” Straub said.

It’s never too early to start exploring the field if you’re interested.

“I sort of regret not trying a lot more stuff when I was in high school because you don’t have to wait until you go to college to learn more computer science,” Lucas Miller, another computer science major, said.

This is the first time the hacking event has been held at the university. They hope to do more in the future.

Categories: Local News, North Dakota News