Laura Nagle loves physics. She peruses scientific papers for her own enjoyment, and she can sometimes work out the answers to cosmological mysteries in her head when she watches documentaries about the universe. She has read, in her estimation, about 12,000 books.
You might say Nagle, 58, is a geek. But if you knew that she also has had severe problems communicating with others throughout her life, and had trouble in school because she’s not “well-rounded,” you might guess that she also has autism.
“I find that physics, engineering – these things speak to my heart, and I see details, relationships and patterns that most people don’t,” says Nagle, who lives near Flagstaff, Arizona.
A group of hackers gathering under one roof might not sound like such a good thing, but they’re far from what you would call cyber crooks.
They call themselves the Hungry Hungry Hackers, or H3, and they aren’t hungry for marbles or breaching others' personal information. They’re students hungry to learn to protect digital assets and information systems. They seek weak points in a network built for them on Georgia Tech's Atlanta campus, then try to strengthen them - it' a safe, ethical space for students to test their skills in cyber-security.
CNN Geek Out spoke to Toni Walden and Joshua L. Davis from Hungry Hungry Hackers about hacking culture, H3 and their Hungry Hungry Hackers Campus Challenge, known as H3C2, which unfolded earlier this month. This is an edited transcript of the conversation.
CNN Geek Out: So what is Hungry Hungry Hackers all about and how did it start?
Walden: It seemed like students really wanted to learn more about information security. So a bunch of us together at (the Georgia Tech Research Institute), and with some help from (the Georgia Tech Information Security Center), Georgia Tech Association for Computing Machinery and Georgia Tech Gray Hat, came together to create a series of different challenges for students to engage in. H3 is about creating a hacking platform where students can learn and grow their skill in a fun and safe way, and it’s about sharing that common interest we have when it comes to information security.
We think school provides a really good theoretical understanding of problems one might see in the field, but what lacks is a hands-on perspective. We just want to offer students with ethical and fun experiences.