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Improving Student Learning and Engagement in Cybersecurity Through Designing and Building Secure Internet of Things (IoT) Systems

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Computing and Information Technology Division Technical Session 2

Tagged Division

Computing and Information Technology

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Paper Authors


Saeed Al-Haj Ohio Northern University

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Dr. Saeed Al-Haj, PhD., is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Ohio Northern University, Ada, Ohio. He completed his Ph.D. in Computing and Informatics from the University of North Carolina Charlotte. His expertise and general interests include: Computer and Network Security; Security Analytics; Firewalls and Access Control Configuration Analytics; Computer Science Education and Cybersecurity Education. His teaching experiences include teaching Computer Science courses and labs, utilizing technology to maximize student learning process, developing curriculum and labs, and supervising undergraduate students projects.

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Cybersecurity education aims to bring the awareness of the importance of security and privacy issues to students. This will help students change how they think when they develop and implement computer applications to consider security problems while they design and test their products.

As our life these days depends heavily on Internet and the usage of computer and mobile applications, the need for cybersecurity professional and experts will continue to expand. Therefore, graduating students who have proper cybersecurity instruction becomes a necessity. This can be achieved by incorporating modern security analysis tools and engaging students in building secure systems throughout the undergraduate curriculum. The primary goals are: 1) to have more systems and products with fewer exploits and vulnerabilities, and 2) to increase the number of professional individuals who are interested in cybersecurity careers and have the proper cybersecurity knowledge and training.

One key challenge in implementing and designing cybersecurity exercises in classrooms is having the proper infrastructure that allows conducting experiments in an isolated environment without jeopardizing security. To overcome this challenge, this paper presents “Secure-It-Yourself” kit. The kit utilizes Raspberry Pi unit as a development environment for hands-on activities and exercises. The advantage of using Raspberry Pi units is creating a configurable isolated sandbox for security hands-on exercises without affecting the current lab infrastructure.

The corner stone in cybersecurity education is offering a set of engaging projects and exercises by which the students get hands-on experience to reinforce concepts covered in the classroom. This paper focuses on assembling a “Secure-It-Yourself” kit for students that can be utilized to bring the awareness of secure systems while enjoying building “Do-It-Yourself” projects. The kit includes all needed components and instructions to build small Internet of Things (IoT) systems.

The “Secure-It-Yourself” kit gives instructors the needed flexibility to design activities that explain how security concepts and secure design principles should be used to build and implement secure systems. Also, this kit helps students to acquire the recommended National Initiative Cybersecurity Education (NICE) security Knowledge Skills and Abilities (KSAs) relevant to the scope of this paper.

The kit can be used in undergraduate Security courses and in summer camps curriculums designed for high school students. The following components are included in the kit: Raspberry Pi unit, motion detection sensor, camera, breadboard, bush button switches, LEDs, jumper wires, and buzzers. The instructor’s kit includes additional components such as: RFID readers and electric locks that support fail-safe and fail-secure features. The paper discusses how the kit is used in two security courses to develop projects and exercises that enhance students’ security knowledge and skills.

Al-Haj, S. (2020, June), Improving Student Learning and Engagement in Cybersecurity Through Designing and Building Secure Internet of Things (IoT) Systems Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34797

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