"My career goal is to be a penetration tester. A penetration tester is actually attacking a service and trying to find a vulnerability within that service. It's basically what security professionals do to strengthen their systems, their firewalls. They're finding flaws that they are unaware about.
"So they hire penetration testers to find these flaws for them by attacking them anyway they can. They'll use multiple attack vectors, different exploits to break into the system and they make the security professionals aware of the flaws and vulnerabilities within their systems."
Logan has long had a fascination with hacking. Did he do some on his own? "Yep," he answers. Was he good at it, "Uh, yes."
"I just like hacking things. I want to be able to do it legally."
In other words, he wants to wear the white hat of hacking.
"A black hat hacker is a criminal," Gardner said. "They're somebody who is stealing your information or breaking into websites and making off with money. A white hat hacker is someone who tries to figure out those attack vectors before the black hat hackers get there so they can be fixed.
"This includes things like looking for vulnerabilities in common products that people use and then reporting them to the vendors so they can be patched. We call it disclosure and we disclose these things. Sometimes we publish them to push the vendor to patch them. Some people call it ethical hacking is another name for it.
"That's what we do. We're the good guys, not the bad guys. I always say I'm a hacker but I'm the good kind, not the bad kind."
Gardner is also adviser to Marshall's new 10-member Cyber Defense Team, a student group that will compete against other colleges in the nation as part of the Mid-Atlantic section of the Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition.
"It's kind of a difficult competition. You're given a network to defend and you have to keep the services on that network up and running," Gardner said. "The attackers are world-class -- they basically bring in people who are paid to assess networks around the world. So in many ways it's like pitting a high school football team against a professional football team. The whole idea is not just to win but to learn a lot."
Whichever way the learning comes, the need for white hat hackers is high.
"There is a great demand," Gardner said. "At this point in information security we have basically a zero percent unemployment rate. Three-letter agencies and private industry both are begging us for students who have certain skill sets. Digital forensics and information assurance teaches those skill sets."
Reach Douglas Imbrogno at doug...@cnpapers.com or 304-348-3017.