Even the less technologically advanced among us could attend a meeting of ISU’s Information Security and Assurance Club (ISU SEC) and immediately learn at least this: ISU SEC is one popular club. Last Wednesday’s meeting was packed with students; all laughing, learning and hacking away.
“The primary goal of the club is to educate ourselves about computer security, but it’s awesome to get a bunch of people with the same interests as you into the same room,” ISU SEC president, sophomore computer science major Adam Ringwood, said. “We usually stick around and talk after each meeting.”
Why is ISU SEC so popular? The answer may be simple.
“It’s a pretty fun thing to do: you get to learn how stuff works,” Ringwood said, “and then you get to learn how to break it.”
For such a popular club, ISU SEC sprung up from exceedingly modest origins.
“It all started with me and another guy in Old Union 213F, which is the closet of our security lab,” senior information systems major and founder of ISU SEC Chris Spehn said. “It’s a really tiny room.”
“In the beginning, the goal of the club was to prepare for CCDC, the Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition,” Spehn said.
CCDC is a defense competition which has been described as a sort of capture the flag for hackers.
“At first I was just teaching people essentially how to do network and system admin,” Spehn said.
But he soon had an epiphany. “I really like hacking, so why not teach it?” Spehn asked himself. And so teach it he did.
“I shifted gears, started teaching hacking and slowly more people became interested in the club,” Spehn said.
Spehn found that attracting new members was not the only benefit of teaching hacking at ISU SEC meetings.
“I realized that it was actually a more effective way of teaching security,” Spehn explained.
Slowly, ISU SEC began to fill a void in the ISU community.
“I feel like ISU was lacking a hacker culture,” Spehn said, “but now I think we have one.”
The club has gone on to become a hotbed of activity, attracting hordes of students interested in anything IT.
“Anyone who is interested and wants to join is always more than welcome,” Ringwood said.
ISU SEC meets at 8 p.m. every Wednesday in Old Union 132.