Tech Club works on hacking

Members of Tech Club work on a hacking exercise. (Photo by DEEP PATEL, Gazebo Staff)

By DEEP PATEL, Gazebo Staff Writer

When most people think of hacking, stealing e-mail passwords and credit card information or installing malware on computers is probably what comes to mind.

According to Mr. Mike McCue, director of technology at Stratford, people have the wrong idea when it comes to hacking.

Stratford’s Tech Club is building a hacking team to compete in CTF (Capture the Flag) competitions.

“Our computer hacking team is not trying to break in anywhere. With that said, in some CFTs you have a virtual machine you’re trying to break into,” he said. “It’s so we can see there is more to computing than just learning a computer.”

Over the summer, McCue attended a summer institute run by College Board at Colorado School of Mines in Boulder, California.

“The presenter, who is now going to Columbia, had participated in a CTF on an all-girls team in high school, and showed us a few puzzles,” McCue said. “I was blown away by the complexity. Some of the stuff she showed was very advanced.”

That inspired him to execute a similar project at Stratford. According to McCue, the 15-member team will participate in on-line competitions for an hour or two a day on their computers.

“I want to learn how hackers get into restricted software. It’s for learning experience. I don’t plan on using this,” said Safi Rahman, a senior and tech club member.

Each team is usually composed of four or five members, and no adults are allowed to compete. While as many as as 1,000 teams register, most don’t advance. Ultimately, 200 begin, and around only 50 finish.

“You really just get some bragging rights if you win,” McCue said. “Or some competitions may offer monetary value.”

Competitions are held throughout the year, though many occur in April and May.

McCue said each competition will be for about a week. “If you commit two to three hours a week, and some extra hours on the weekends, you stand a good chance to win,” he said.

If the club does win, it will advance to Washington DC. “I anticipate we will be crushed, but not in spirit, only in score,” McCue said. “We may not score a lot but we’ll have a lot of pizza.”