JACKSON HOLE, WYO \u2013 Jackson Hole native\u00a0Ben Bernard was caught red-handed hacking into a college network recently. He won\u2019t be going to jail, however. He\u2019ll go to the head of the class.\r\n\r\nBernard helped hack the North Dakota State University campus network as part of the recent \u2018HACK NDSU\u2019 event. The event is the first-of-its-kind opportunity for college students to test their hacking skill against campus network security measures in a perfectly legitimate and sanctioned event that will help bolster the security of the campus network in the future.\r\n\r\nThe exercise is called a penetration test. Basically, testers\u2014in this case a group of NDSU students\u2014pretend to be the bad guys to see what they can access. They track the issues that they find so they can be fixed before real bad guys use them for nefarious purposes. The exercise was led by experienced local professional penetration tester Tim Jensen of AppSec Consulting and carried out under the watchful eyes of NDSU Chief Information Security Officer Enrique Garcia.\r\n\r\n\u201cThe event gave students a unique opportunity to test out and demonstrate their skills in the real world,\u201d said assistant professor Jeremy Straub. Straub is also the associate director of the NDSU Institute for Cyber Security Education and Research and helped plan the event along with Garcia. \u201cIf students, on their own, did the types of things they got to try as part of HACK NDSU, they could be expelled or even arrested. The opportunity to have real penetration testing experience on their resume gives our students a big leg up, as compared to students from other schools, in getting security industry jobs.\u201d\r\n\r\nThe event spanned two evening sessions. During the first, Jensen, Bernard, and the other students scanned the network for vulnerabilities and carried out some limited attacks. During the second, focus turned to exploiting the potential vulnerabilities that the scan found\u2014basically showing that the issues could actually be hacked.\r\n\r\n\u201cI participated in HACK NDSU to learn more about networks are attacked and defended in a real-world setting,\u201d Bernard said, hoping to learn more about the current state-of-the-art in attacking and defending networks.\r\n\r\nJensen and the students found a number of issues, but the NDSU network was relatively secure overall. Jensen said it compared favorably to other networks that he has performed penetration testing on.\r\n\r\n\u201cThere are always vulnerabilities on any network,\u201d Garcia admitted. \u201cIt\u2019s better that our students find them than somebody else. I think it\u2019s great to have the students work in a real-life situation. There was a lot of interest and questions.\u201d\r\n\r\nThe experience builds on coursework offered at NDSU related to ethical hacking, network security and other cybersecurity topics. Students can pursue a special recognition in cybersecurity as part of a bachelor\u2019s degree in computer science, a graduate certificate in cybersecurity or an option in cybersecurity as part of NDSU\u2019s M.S. and Ph.D. programs in computer science or software engineering.\r\n\r\nNorth Dakota State University is leading the state\u2019s efforts in cybersecurity education through the NDSU Institute for Cyber Security Education and Research. Research and educational activities are conducted in a new 1,200 square foot dedicated cybersecurity facility within the Quentin Burdick Building on the NDSU campus.