UD students present work at leading security conference
University of Delaware students make a presentation during DEFCON 17, held in Las Vegas.
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1:51 p.m., Aug. 18, 2009----A research group led by Fouad Kiamilev, professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Delaware, recently gave several presentations at DEFCON 17. The world's largest annual security conference, DEFCON attracts attendees from industry, government, and academia.

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Kiamilev leads the CVORG research group at UD, which specializes in making electronic devices and in software-hardware integration. The group includes a large number of undergraduate researchers.

“With the recent push for research into security, the conference has seen a spike in attendance,” Kiamilev says, “and it is now the single largest gathering of security professionals and hobbyists. Each year, the speaker selection becomes more restrictive.”

With the assistance of his students, Kiamilev presented a three-hour tutorial on hardware security, with the material compressed from his senior design course at UD. In addition to the tutorial, undergraduates from Kiamilev's research group gave two technical presentations.

Stephen Janansky, a senior in computer engineering, and Nick Waite, a senior in electrical engineering, detailed vulnerabilities in everyday computers that could allow for disclosure of personal and private data. “The larger application,” Janansky says, “is that the vulnerabilities could be used to defeat current government protection mechanisms designed to prevent such things from happening.” After the presentation, the group met with several government agencies and contractors to assist them in better understanding the problem.

Josh Marks and Rob Rehrig, both seniors in electrical engineering, and Lawrence Aiello, a junior in computer engineering, presented their design of an alternative computer interface for helping those with disabilities. By “hacking” low-cost commercial components of the Nintendo Wii, the team designed a system that allows those with limited mobility or control to operate a computer or other digital device.

For this work, the team collaborated with Kenneth Barner, professor and chairperson of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Dustin Overmill, an undergraduate from Barner's research group, helped write a gesture recognition engine to increase the usability of the device by allowing for complicated actions to be completed using simple motions.

“What makes Dr. Kiamilev unique is his strong commitment to undergraduate education,” Janansky says. “Thanks to him and Dr. David Sincoskie (director of the Center on Information and Communications Sciences at UD), the group was able to get enough sponsors to support the participation of 14 students at the conference. With the recent demand for security professionals, Dr. Kiamilev and Dr. Sincoskie are helping students get involved in the field, which will give us a competitive edge upon graduation.”

A group of students from Kiamilev's lab, including several of those who attended and presented at DEFCON, were featured in a UDaily story earlier this year for building a sensor platform to help Public Safety improve security and safety on the UD campus.

For more information about the group's presentations at DEFCON 17, visit their Web site.

Article by Diane Kukich