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2020 BEST PIC I PAPER WINNER - Hands-On Cybersecurity Curriculum Using a Modular Training Kit

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

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DISTINGUISHED LECTURE: 2020 Best PIC and Zone Papers

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Asmit De Pennsylvania State University

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Asmit De is a PhD Candidate in Computer Engineering at PennState. His research interest is in developing secure hardware and architectures for mitigating system vulnerabilities. Asmit received his B. Tech degree in Computer Science and Engineering from National Institute of Technology Durgapur, India in 2014. He worked as a Software Engineer in the enterprise mobile security team at Samsung R&D Institute, India from 2014 to 2015. He has also worked as a Design Engineer Intern in the SoC Template team at SiFive Inc. developing security IPs in summer 2019.

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Mohammad Nasim Imtiaz Khan

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Karthikeyan Nagarajan Pennsylvania State University Orcid 16x16

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Abdullah Ash Saki

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Md Mahabubul Alam

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Taylor Steven Wood Pennsylvania State University Orcid 16x16

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Matthew Johnson Pennsylvania State University Orcid 16x16

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Manoj Varma Saripalli

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Yu Xia Pennsylvania State University

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Stephanie Cutler Pennsylvania State University

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Swaroop Ghosh Pennsylvania State University

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Kathleen M. Hill

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Annmarie Ward

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There is an exponential growth in the number of cyber-attack incidents resulting in significant financial loss and national security concerns. Secure cyberspace has been designated as one of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Grand Challenges in engineering. Broadly, the security threats are targeted on software programs, operating system and network with the intention to launch confidentiality, integrity and availability violations. Existing undergraduate and graduate-level cybersecurity education curriculum rely primarily on didactic teaching methods with little focus on student centered, inquiry-based teaching, known to improve student learning. With growing number of security incidents taking place, it is utmost important to prepare a workforce equipped with knowledge of the threat space and existing state-of-the-art solution. Such comprehensive understanding is only possible by a dedicated hands-on course on cybersecurity where students can learn the key concepts by editing the hardware, software and OS, and, network policies. Unfortunately, such extensive and deep flexibilities are not provided in current cybersecurity curriculum.

In this paper, we introduce a hands-on and modular self-learning Cybersecurity Training (CST) Kit to advance cybersecurity education. Students can promptly apply newly acquired knowledge on the CST Kit as part of the learning process. This Kit accompanies Do-It-Yourself (DIY) training modules that is used to model and investigate cybersecurity issues and their prevention to all levels of the cybersecurity workforce, including undergraduate and graduate students and K-12 science and technology teachers. The Kit also covers various aspects of cybersecurity issues including, hardware, software, operating system and network security. A coursework is developed on hardware security for Senior undergraduate and graduate students. A preliminary survey conducted among students who were introduced to the modular board to implement hardware security threats such as, side-channel attack shows an 120% improvement in their understanding after the CST Kit based activities. The components of the CST Kit are also used in a 4-day summer workshop for K-12 teachers. Teachers took pre- and post- concept inventories to assess their learning of content throughout the workshop and the results indicated improvement of 58%. These assessments focused on vulnerabilities and specific types of attacks, system security, data transmission and encryption, permutations and combinatorics, and binary numbers.

De, A., & Khan, M. N. I., & Nagarajan, K., & Saki, A. A., & Alam, M. M., & Wood, T. S., & Johnson, M., & Saripalli, M. V., & Xia, Y., & Cutler, S., & Ghosh, S., & Hill, K. M., & Ward, A. (2021, July), 2020 BEST PIC I PAPER WINNER - Hands-On Cybersecurity Curriculum Using a Modular Training Kit Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--36541

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