Password cracking with the Cyber Security Association

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Photo credit: Holly Dorman

Fingers tap-tap-tapped across keyboards. The team spoke in hushed voices as they worked to crack the password.

The light from the projector and individual computer screens lit up the room, casting shadows across faces.

The BYU-Idaho Cyber Security Association teaches students of all skill levels about the different tools and techniques used in cybersecurity through hands-on experience. Student instructors taught participants how to crack passwords at their meeting on Feb. 13.

“When I came to college, I knew I wanted to do something with computers,” said Justin Wilson, a junior studying computer information technology and CSA president. “Cybersecurity is something that has always fascinated me … I’d read stories in the news and stuff about things that were going on in cybersecurity, but I never really saw myself in the middle of that … Being in CSA has helped me come to realize that cybersecurity is what I want to do for a career.”

CSA participates in different competitions across the country, the next one being the Pacific Rim Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition. Competitions like PRCCDC provide opportunities for students, including jobs, internships and the chance to have fun. More information about PRCCDC can be found on their website.

“Three years ago, we started to get more regularly engaged in competitions,” said Kory Godfrey, computer information technology department chair. “Competitions are sometimes described as ‘the bridge between an academic environment and the day-to-day everyday workplace.'”

Potential employers also notice the extra effort to hone students’ skills.

“We’ve had students put this on their resume and it really seems to set them apart from other job-seekers,” said Carl Gibbons, Computer Information Technology faculty member and advisor for CSA.

Wilson hopes the idea of learning new skills will entice others to come and join CSA.

“It doesn’t matter how much you know or how little you know,” Wilson said. “Just come. Just be here and learn.”

Those interested in learning more about CSA can go to the society’s homepage or attend their weekly meeting on Thursdays from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in the Science and Technology Center 201/205.

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