Student group promotes ethical computer hacking

The Youngstown State University Information Security and Ethical Hacking Association applies ethics to computer hacking skills in an attempt to better learn and understand the communication networks of the 21st century.

YSU ISEHA was established in May in order to raise awareness about information security and to give students more formal training outside of the classroom. The group does not teach students how to hack into networks, though they will learn some related skills.

Ethical hacking, also known as penetration testing, simulates a cyber attack against a corporate network in which the “hackers” gain access to a company’s systems and protected information. ISEHA members are able to determine what should be changed to improve network security based on the simulation.

“It helps them understand the ethical boundaries and conduct that will be expected of them in today’s workforce,” said Mark Welton, ISEHA adviser.

The organization originally consisted of a group of computer science and information systems department competitors for the 2012 Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition. The group began to expand as the members recognized others’ interests in the information security profession. 

“The word ‘ethical’ is a key component to our goals and our mission. This is not a club dedicated to teaching students how to hack into a network,” said Nathan Miller, ISEHA president and spokesman. “We adhere to all relevant cyber crime laws and ethical practices that would be expected of a professional penetration tester.”

Miller is in charge of organizing meetings and events. He also oversees the growth and development of ISEHA.

Thomas Stine, a YSU student, said he hopes and expects that ISEHA will “continue to be a supportive place.”

“[It’s] where students may come to learn and apply knowledge, which will grow tomorrow’s security professionals,” he said. “I am currently working on getting new members interested, since I believe it is an important opportunity for students to learn many things that they may not otherwise be learning from their classes.”

ISEHA holds regular meetings every Friday at 5:30 p.m. in Room 116 of Meshel Hall. They will also be hosting a VirtualBox Virtual Lab on April 26.