RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. -We login online to do just about everything. We work, shop, bank, and keep up with the latest trends on social media.
Through it all, one thing that’s becoming more common is cyber threats. Arkansas Tech University has a new program that teaches students how to fight crime online.
Juniors, Spencer Massengale and Zachary Spadoni, are both cyber security majors. They are learning about worldwide threats that lurk on the innerweb.
“All the ins and outs of how anyone would break into that network and cause any malicious activity,” Spadoni said.
This year, they have something new and unique that helps them learn hands on. It’s called “The Dirty Lab”.
“It’s one small room and one confined network that’s divorced from the outside world,” Spadoni said.
In the lab, they can work on any malware they want without the threat of messing up anyone else’s system. They can literally hack into networks and play the role of the bad guy.
“We can’t stop attackers if we don’t know how to attack,” explains Massengale.
Nothing they do here will ever leave these servers. They sign waivers saying they won’t use the knowledge for ill will.
Both Massengale and Spadoni have big plans for where they want to work after they graduate.
“Homeland security, NSA, or the FBI and work with child exploitation or trafficking,” Massengale said.
“Anyway I can protect the world and protect those that might not know what can go on across the internet,” Spadoni said.
However, it all starts here.They are being taught how to fight cyber warfare with the click of the mouse.
“It’s basically a safe space for us to do whatever we want. Experiment and test with anything.”
Governor Asa Hutchinson appropriated money to help create the dirty lab and expand the cyber security major.