SPICE’s IoT House Hosts Hacking 4 Defense Team

The Security and Privacy in Informatics, Computing, and Engineering (SPICE) Center’s Internet of Things (IoT) House research laboratory is hosting a Hacking 4 Defense (H4D) team this fall. Working on a problem set supplied by the United States Air Force, students from the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering are tasked with producing entrepreneurial solutions to real world problems using a modified Lean Start-Up Methodology as the core of their classwork.

Hacking 4 Defense (H4D) is a national program of the National Security Innovation Network (NSIN) and seeks to partner with universities in order to discover new technologies, techniques, and approaches to challenges that face the Department of Defense and military units around the world. In bringing technical knowledge, capability, and out of the box thinking, students are able to develop solutions that solve warfighter needs in new ways the military would not have developed alone. For their part, students are given the opportunity to hone their classroom skills on real world challenges and gain experience in problem solving.

Luddy implements H4D as a course that includes both undergraduate and graduate students. Working in teams, the students implement the Lean Start-Up model to rapidly assess the exact nature of their challenge and move quickly through iterations of minimum viable products. They move towards a proof of concept that can be presented to their unit hosts for knowledge dissemination or field testing. The course is unusual in its reliance on models that are traditionally those of a business school or an entrepreneur course, giving Luddy students a valuable multi-disciplinary foundation in the process. 

The IoT House is a hacker house used to host research students and projects in a home environment that allows for both attack and defense activity on its protected lab network. Research work ranges from penetration testing, to network traffic analysis and threat detection. The lab is also capable of supporting the invention of new devices like the Securtle threat detection device as well as the development and deployment of IoT systems for residential risk conveyance and user control. Rapid prototyping capability matched with a cadre of graduate researchers experienced in technical skills as well as human studies provides the H4D students with a supportive environment for their semester work of iterative development.

This semester’s team is already using the house to produce rapid prototyping of both technical solutions and to perform simple human tests to see if their planned solutions are viable. They greatly appreciate having a location where they can build physical prototypes as well as meet with focus group members in their fast iteration process. 

Having a safe space to be technical in design, creative in scope, and meet with subjects for testing is what the IoT house has been doing for six years since its creation. In addition to SPICE research projects, it has hosted capstone teams both at IU and from other universities, K-12 educational outreach, cybersecurity human studies research, REU students, Hackathons, and IU-wide student research for programs such as IU’s Groups Scholars Program. We look forward to what the H4D team is able to produce.