UO’s most secretive club to be ASUO recognized? UO Security Club aims to become official student group
One of the University of Oregon’s most secretive clubs is attempting to become an official ASUO student organization. The UO Security Club (UOSec) is a computer based group that focuses on cyber security.
Unofficially founded by UO student Joe Pletcher, in its early days the group was what you’d call an “elitist” club, explained Adam Pond, the club’s leader. Because the group wasn’t registered in the University’s club list, news of the group was only spread by word of mouth.
Anders “Ders” Stadum, a co-leader in the group, jokes how the cyber security club was so difficult to find that it was also a physical security club.
UOSec focuses on teaching its members how to protect their computers against hackers and virus attacks. Instead of using tactics that one would learn in a class at the university, the group utilizes “offensive security,” Pond said.
Meetings involve instructing students on how to personally set up computer systems and then figure out how to break it, Pond stated.
“The best way to learn to prevent these types of offensive security vulnerabilities (in computers) is to figure out how to break them,” Pond said.
Along with their weekly meetings, UOSec also competes in security tournaments, Stadum explained. Known as CTF (Capture the Flag) tournaments, these events involve teams attempting to hack into their opponent’s computer, along with many other programing and puzzle solving trials.
The team has competed in CTFs such as Ghost in the Shellcode in the past and more recently participated in HackIM on January 11. The team placed 100th out of 378 teams. A bus ride to the event for the group was funded by the Computer and Information department, according to Frank “The Tank” Arana, another co-leader in the club.
The majority of the group’s members come from a class titled CIS 433: Computer & Network Security, said Stadum. Professor Jun Li requires his students attend the groups meetings for class credit.
In order to become officially recognized, the group needs to meet at least twice a month for six months and have a minimum of five people present. Documentation of these events must be created and sent to ASUO in order to prove that the group has a consistent membership base. This is to show that the student group won’t simply fall apart shortly after its creation, according to a past article from The Emerald.
As of 2014, the article says that there are 183 student organizations on campus with 120 receiving funding from ASUO. Approximately 15-20 applications for new groups are received each year with only 5-10 are accepted and made an official club by ASUO.
UOSec in the past has struggled to maintain its membership, Pond said. When a former club leader graduated and the teacher adviser for the club at the time transferred schools, the group membership took a hit.
Pond helped rebuild the club and made it what it was today. Pond explained it as the club “rising like the phoenix.” With the help of Pond and his associates, the club became more user-friendly and easier to find. The new leadership is now more open to helping people who are new and wish to build them to an elite level.
Pond wishes for the club to “be a tool who can help people get into the security industry.”
The volunteer-based student group has had several members in the past be recruited to work for security companies. Stadum explained that UOSec is currently on the list of many recruiters for the tech industry and that it isn’t too uncommon to see one of their members be hired straight out of school.
UOSec hopes to become an official club by the end of the 2015 winter term. With all of the club leaders being seniors and graduating soon, the group may face a similar situation of mass membership loss that occurred in the past. But as the group has had to rebuild in the past, the club is determined to grow and become a legitimate ASUO student originization in the future.
Those wishing to learn more about the group can attend one of its meetings held every Thursday at six p.m. in the Colloquium room in Deschutes Hall. In addition, the club’s contact information can be found on its website.
Follow Eric Schucht on Twitter @EricSchucht
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