Computer students learn art of hacking

January 31, 2003

Would-be computer hackers can now go to a German university to learn the art of breaking into other people's systems - and leave with a degree.

The courses are being offered at the University of Darmstadt. Tutor Markus Schumacher said: "To be able to defend an IT system, [you have] to be able to look at it from the viewpoint of an attacker."

Students are taught the legal consequences of hacking, as well as the skills of tapping into other systems and defending their own.

Tutors say that hackers have to possess three qualities - curiosity, technical motivation and obsession. They stressed that no networks were harmed by the students' attempts to hack into each other's computers because internal firewalls were set up.

Mr Schumacher said: "Naturally, mistakes are made, but it is important for the students to make them. Only people who make mistakes and understand them will be in the position to make the right decisions in the future."

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