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Computer hackers learn principles behind break-ins

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  • | 12:25 p.m. September 9, 2011
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By definition, computer hackers aren't ethical.

Yet a seemingly contradictory term, ethical computer hacking, has grown in popularity the past year, mostly in response to the rash of computer viruses and attacks launched worldwide. The concept behind ethical computer hacking is when a computer whiz — with permission — breaks into a computer system to point out its weaknesses.

Now college students at USF Sarasota-Manatee can become well versed in ethical hacking. Shane Hartman, an adjunct professor who has worked in IT security for global firms in Washington, D.C., teaches a class on the subject at the college. “We go over the tools they use in the real world,” Hartman tells Coffee Talk. “We explain how it works.”

In a syllabus, Hartman also explains that the class is taught “asynchronously,” where students independently work on a number of hands-on Internet and software exercises.

One goal of the class is to make students aware of what can be done with a computer and a Wi-Fi connection, what Hartman calls “exploitation techniques.” Lesson plans scheduled for the year include Cracking Passwords, Vulnerability Mapping and Apache Attacks.

Another goal, says Hartman, is to prepare students for a career in the field. Coffee Talk sure hopes the students will focus on the ethical side of the class name.


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