Crimson Defense Prepares Students for Cyber Arena

  • October 25th, 2018

Students are familiar with the Crimson Tide defense on the football field, but a new student organization on campus, Crimson Defense, is quickly gaining its own fan base.

Students from many majors are part of Crimson Defense.

Crimson Defense is UA’s first student organization dedicated to cybersecurity. The group is comprised of students from multiple colleges and fields of study including engineering, computer science, mathematics, electrical engineering and criminal justice.

“Crimson Defense provides students with a unique, multifaceted approach to cybersecurity,” said Jake Wachs, the group’s president. “Our three-prong approach of teaching, advocating and competing allows students to find their niche in the growing field of cybersecurity.”

Crimson Defense offers lessons in cybersecurity practices such as penetration testing, malware reverse engineering and network defense principles. Groups of students within Crimson Defense regularly compete in local, state and national cybersecurity competitions. Last year, the group competed for the first time in the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition where they placed 19th in the southeastern region.

“If you’re interested in learning the basic skills necessary to enter the cyber arena, we’ll teach you.” — Jake Wachs, Crimson Defense president

Crimson Defense is passionate about establishing a program of study in cybersecurity. The group is working with UA faculty and staff to launch a cybersecurity specialization for computer science students, with the ultimate goal of creating a cybersecurity major at UA.

“Through Crimson Defense, I have learned a lot about networking and how computers interact with each other,” said group member and computer science major Zach Weske. “I have been able to see many of the risks that are out there, such as man-in-the-middle attacks or cross site scripting. This type of training helps me to be safer and smarter when it comes to dealing with sensitive information in computing.”

Crimson Defense was created to expose students to the cyber world and teach them what questions to ask.

Crimson Defense strives to provide students with the skills necessary to obtain, and ultimately be successful in, a career in cybersecurity. Attending a Crimson Defense one-hour meeting will not turn a student into a hacker. Rather, Crimson Defense was created to expose students to the cyber world and teach them what questions to ask.

Crimson Defense regularly hosts industry representatives to share information on the status of the industry. This year, Crimson Defense has hosted technical talks from Lockheed Martin and Synopsys, with Northrop Grumman scheduled for next semester.

“The icing on the cake is our industry contacts,” said Wachs. “If you want to rub shoulders with recruiters from Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman or Synopsys, we provide the environment. Students just have to bring their programming expertise.”

Crimson Defense desires to establish a network of cybersecurity student organizations that spans to other universities, raising the next generation of U.S. cyber warriors. A long-term goal for the group is to counter militant cyber buildups in countries like China and Russia.

Students with programming experience can join Crimson Defense through the UA Source website, or email

The University of Alabama, part of The University of Alabama System, is the state’s flagship university. UA shapes a better world through its teaching, research and service. With a global reputation for excellence, UA provides an inclusive, forward-thinking environment and nearly 200 degree programs on a beautiful, student-centered campus. A leader in cutting-edge research, UA advances discovery, creative inquiry and knowledge through more than 30 research centers. As the state’s largest higher education institution, UA drives economic growth in Alabama and beyond.