Cyber Lions train with real-world hackers and security analysts at SANS conference

Students in Penn State Harrisburg’s Cyber Lions club, a student-run organization that focuses on extending information systems technology and security and risk analysis education beyond the classroom, attended the SANS Security East Conference early this semester in New Orleans, Louisiana. The group, which included Edward Corbett; Katlynn Lenker; Jared Trigilli; Gunther Gochenauer; and Jayson Coulter, gained valuable knowledge and trained alongside experienced professionals.

Corbett said that Russell Houseknecht, lecturer in information sciences and technology in the college’s School of Business Administration and faculty adviser of the Cyber Lions, was an inspiration for them to attend the conference, as he had stressed the importance of certifications in addition to academics and had introduced the integrity of SANS to the class.

During the conference, the students attended the SEC560: Network Penetration Testing and Ethical Hacking course, a hands-on, immersion-style class on computer network penetration testing and ethical hacking taught by real-world practitioners. They learned various techniques such as scanning networks and guessing passwords, and they applied their training in a competitive “Capture the Flag” event held at the end of the conference.

According to Corbett, senior security and risk analysis major and vice president of the Cyber Lions, only a few students were at the conference, and those with whom they spoke were impressed that the college would provide the resources enabling students to have such an experience.

“SANS could be described as a traveling college, and the training was like receiving a semester-long master’s level course in one week,” Corbett said.

In addition to the knowledge gained through their intensive training, the students left the conference with audio files from each session they attended and a textbook-like binder of resources they were given.

Corbett works alongside Houseknecht to replicate vulnerable systems on which the club members can practice, applying skills and training received at SANS and other conferences. He also applies his training while working as a network specialist intern for the Naval Support Activity in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania.


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