Students participate in Internet ‘Capture the Flag’

Senior Jacob Olson and eight fellow members of the Linfield Computer Sciences Club (LCSC) competed in a computer game of capture the flag Oct. 19. The goal of the competition was simple: hack a computer security system and score points by capturing flags hidden within the system.

Although Olson and the rest of the team didn’t perform as well as they had hoped, they understand that what they are doing is still a work in progress.

Olson started LCSC last year. Its goal is to explore the growing field of computer hacking and security.

“In computers, there are multiple fields of study, and security is one of the largest growing,” Olson said. “What we are doing in this competition is simulating both the offensive and defensive side of computer security.”

The Capture the Flag competition is part of a larger program known as the NCL Fall Pilot. It is put on by former members of the NSA, CIA and FBI. The program consists of 13 online courses that teach basic computer security techniques.

This program teaches techniques used by criminal hackers. Learning their illicit methods will eventually teach computer operators how to defend against the many forms of hacking.

For Olson and the other members of LCSC, the competition gives them a chance to gauge their skills after just one year.

“Most of the students that are at the competition are students that come from schools with security programs,” he said. “Linfield didn’t have any kind of system like this until last spring.”

The nine-member club that Olson began has grown to a club of about 20 students. Although the students do a lot of the work independently and are self-taught, they receive support from many different sources.

“The faculty is pushing to get a security class started due to the work that we did with the club,” Olson said. “They have put a lot of effort into expanding the field both with classes and by allowing us to upgrade our equipment.”

The club has made contact and received help from security professionals. For the most part, though, this is a student-led project.

“As of right now, it is really us pushing ourselves to where we want to be with our skills as computer security students,” Olson said.

Jerry Young

For the Review

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