Hacking and Networking: The LU Cyber Defense Club

Are you looking for resume experiences or job opportunities in cyber security? Look no further than Liberty’s Cyber Defense club. 

This club, founded in 2010, is dedicated to preparing Liberty students for careers in the cyber security industry. The club provides opportunities to network with others and learn valuable job skills. Andrew Rioux serves as the club president and said the club holds regular meetings that focus on special facets of the industry. 

“For instance, this semester we’re focusing on freshman and careers and then different opportunities that they can seek out in the cyber space,” Rioux said. “Next semester, we’ll be doing some more technical stuff like different hacking techniques and how to defend against (them).”

Rioux said the club invites a variety of speakers that can help students learn what they want in a career, what employers are looking for and what skills are needed in the current job market. 

“I wanted to get involved with cybersecurity outside of classwork,” Joel Camplejohn, a club officer, said. “To start learning, get ahead of the curve (and) meet some of the other students. (I) thought (the Cyber Defense club) would be a really good way to do that.” 

An up-and-coming career field, cyber security has been shown to be important in an ever-changing world of technology. Getting involved and setting goals were two big factors for club officer Jared Bieker when he joined. 

 “(It) really gave me a lot of goals, and I was able to pursue those goals pretty directly,” Bieker said. “It gave a lot of direction in accomplishing a lot of the things that I wanted to do in my career path.” 

The Cyber Defense club also provides Liberty students with an opportunity to gain practical experience through programs like the Mid-Atlantic Cyber Defense competition. This program is highly competitive and brings Liberty students       face-to-face with teams from colleges like UVA, Virginia Tech and George Mason. Teams compete against each other to provide the best response to an opposing group of    professional hackers. 

These competitions are not only limited to technical skills related to cybersecurity, but they also help students develop skills essential to any workforce, like communication and teamwork. 

“We also work (on) technical writing (skills),”  Bieker explained. “The captain has the responsibility of dealing with the CEO. So, there’s interviews where you go in and… you take all this technical information, and you have to communicate it to someone in a way that’s useful. A CEO doesn’t care about the technical stuff… You have to be able to translate that from a technical terminology into and bring that into the business world.”

While the Mid Atlantic competition focuses on defensive cyber security, there are also competitions that focus on the offensive side of cyber security. John Camplejohn and Jared Bieker are the captains of Liberty’s cyber competition teams. In offensive cyber security, companies will pay cybersecurity professionals to hack their systems and report on security flaws. The Cyber Defense club has recently started a team for these offensive competitions.

“We started (this) team last fall,” Camplejohn said. “We wanted to branch out into some new areas of  cyber security and different competitions.” 

The competitions  provide excellent resume experiences, and they also provide job opportunities at big tech companies. 

“My experience (is that) when you go to these CCDC competitions, they have these companies that are putting in money to the competition so that they can get first dibs on the talent that comes out of that,” Camplejohn said. 

The club is currently recruiting for both teams. They make it clear that anyone is welcome to try out.

“We really encourage people, no matter how much you know, to come try out,” Bieker said “We can teach you how to do this stuff, how to operate on our team… Even if you don’t make the team, either way, it’s still a great experience.”

The Cyber Defense club meets at the School of Business Room 2830 at 6:30 p.m. every Thursday. 

Brown is a feature reporter for the Liberty Champion 

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