Marshall Collegiate Cyber Defense Club teaches defense security

Marshall University’s Collegiate Cyber Defense Club (CCDC) is not making computer hackers, but is hacking its way to the top by teaching defense security.

Marshall has one of the top programs in the nation for digital forensics and information insurance, said Peyton Stevens, a sophomore digital forensics and information insurance major who is president of the CCDC. He said he hopes the club gives students a chance to represent the university through competitions.

“Marshall actually has one of the top programs in the nation at digital forensics and information insurance, but we just never managed to get it off the ground with the competition itself,” Stevens said.

Stevens said the CCDC competed in its first competition of the year on Feb. 14. He said the competition was held throughout the United States, involving universities with a club wanting to compete.

“It is held remotely across all the schools competing, but for us, we did it in Drinko Library,” Stevens said. “There are 33 teams and three days of competition. We were on the first day, which was the the 14th, and it started at 10:30 a.m. and lasted until 3:30 p.m., but other teams do it different days. Eleven teams will do it on Tuesday and eleven will do it Saturday.”

The competition tested student’s skills in the areas of network defense, Stevens said.

“In the competition, we are thrown into a technically unknown scenario where there are active attackers and we have to defend the network from them,” Stevens said.

Although the club did not do as well as it hoped this year, Stevens said, he said he hopes it can someday achieve being national champion.

“We did not this year, but I want to make sure that, once I am gone, hopefully before I am gone, we make it to regionals and eventually win the national championship,” Stevens said.

Now, with the competition over, Bryan Groves, a senior double major in computer science and digital forensics and information insurance and member of the CCDC, said he is going over fundamentals with the club to prepare for next year’s competition.

“I am going over fundamentals right now, so I am hoping that a lot of the freshman come up and have an interest and will be able to compete in the next year or two,” Groves said.

Even with Marshall having one of the best programs, Groves said the club gives students a chance to learn things not taught in the classroom.

“We do cyber challenges,” Groves said. “It is something that can help bolster your skills while you are in school, because a lot of this stuff we do is not actually learned in class, so it is stuff that is not offered by Marshall.”

The CCDC does not make hackers, Groves said. He said he hopes the CCDC can grow with students who appreciate the work that is done.

“I am hoping it grows,” Groves said. “We lose a lot of people because they come in and say, ‘I want to be a hacker,’ but people do not realize that this is actually a lot of work. Like most things, if you want something, you have to work at it.”

The club is not just about cyber defense, but building lasting friendships, Stevens said.

“I hope they (students) gain knowledge and skills, but really, what I try to do as a leader is try to get them to build friendships, because it is a unique group of people, and so it is sometimes hard to get big personalities to work together,” Stevens said. “So, I think it is really neat when I can see people interacting with someone they would have never before.”

No prior knowledge of cyber defense is needed to be a member and many current members would be willing to teach newcomers the ways, Stevens said.

“There are really no prior skills required, because I am sure myself, Bryan (Groves) or another member would be willing to teach anyone, because I like having new people, and you never know, they could have great talent,” Stevens said.

Stevens said he hopes he can create a club that will last for years to come.

“I just really hope that I can build something that can be a mainstay at Marshall,” Stevens said. “I think it would be really cool if people were like ‘Hey did you hear about what the CCDC team did?’”

For more information about the club and its competitions, Stevens said individuals can visit the CCDC HerdLink page or come to a meeting. CCDC meets every Wednesday at 6 p.m. in WAEC 1232.

 Meredith O’Bara can be contacted at [email protected]