Students develop skills in cybersecurity through organization on campus


Students attend their weekly Information Assurance Student Group (IASG) meeting to gain experience in cybersecurity as well as obtain knowledge on safe practices. 

Avery Staker

One student organization is working to help Iowa State students navigate the world of cybersecurity.

The Information Assurance Student Group (IASG) is a student-led organization for any Iowa State students interested in cybersecurity. The group has weekly meetings to discuss topics pertaining to the fields of cybersecurity, information assurance and educating students interested in those fields.

Since many STEM classes at Iowa State do not cover cybersecurity, IASG aims to supplement its members’ educations by talking about security-related news and teaching skills members will need in future information assurance careers.

“We do our best to be a lexicon of knowledge for students of all skill levels, from a hardened veteran to people who have never opened a terminal before,” said William Springer, IASG public relations chair and senior in cyber security engineering. “We emphasize safe and legal practices in our meetings, so students are taught means to defend themselves in a way that keeps them out of trouble.”

Previously, IASG has hosted guest speakers from Boeing, the FBI, the Air Force and many more international and government organizations at their weekly meetings. This has given many members opportunities to network with professional cybersecurity experts and find potential internships and careers. Students can also contact IASG Leadership to present information on a topic of choice. Occasionally, cabinet members will have presentations catered toward beginner students with little to no experience.

“IASG is a great resource for anyone interested in cybersecurity,” said Evan Hellman, IASG member and senior in computer science. “It has taught me and many other members much of what we know about cybersecurity in our chosen fields.”

Other events IASG hosts include the Halloween Capture-the-Flag, where students find flags hidden in a computer network and win prizes, and weekly network puzzles and challenges.

The organization also assists in advertising and coordinating all five of Iowa State’s Cyber Defense Competitions (CDCs). These competitions take place at different times of the school year in various buildings around campus. Among the CDCs, there is a national competition, a community college competition and a high school competition, which was the first high school CDC in the country.

Additionally, IASG provides its members with the opportunity to rent cybersecurity equipment as a resource to prepare for real-world situations commonly seen in information assurance careers.

“IASG is a great community of passionate individuals who work together and help each other learn and grow,” Hellman said.

IASG is open to all students, not just cybersecurity majors and minors. Everyone is welcome to attend the weekly meetings at 5:15 p.m. Mondays in Hoover 1312, and recordings of each meeting are posted on IASG’s YouTube page. IASG also has a Slack channel, which is an online forum to discuss cybersecurity-related topics.

“The concepts brought about in IASG will be useful to anyone with an interest in computers or security,” Springer said. “For students pursuing the cybersecurity major, many of the concepts presented on beginner’s nights are the same concepts encountered in required courses. For students not in a cybersecurity focused major, knowing about cybersecurity concepts will make you a better producer of products wherever you go.”