MONTEREY, Calif. (NNS) -- A small cadre of midshipmen from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis are wrapping-up a weeks-long internship with Naval Postgraduate School Cyber Academic Group (CAG) faculty, June 18.
Sponsored by the National Reconnaissance Office, the interns traveled to
the West Coast during their school's summer break to get hands-on
experience in software engineering, cloud computing and
Midshipmen Aaron Fleming, Kyle Hawkins, Ethan Genco and Victor Bowen are
all computer science students at the academy, and each were assigned
specific tasks to incorporate what they have already learned upon
arrival in Monterey. At the same time, faculty challenged the interns to
learn computer coding language and objects that deal with cyber
security and smartphone application development - work they would not
ordinarily be doing during their studies back in Annapolis.
"Aaron and Victor are conducting research that they normally wouldn't be
working on at the academy," said CAG Chair Dr. Cynthia Irvine. They
have been challenged, and the outcome has been a unique contribution to
NPS' research in cyber security because of their fresh sets of eyes to a
problem, she added.
With Irvine's mentorship and oversight, two of the four midshipmen are
working with computer science Associate Professor Craig Martell in
ongoing biometrics research, while the other two are working with
research associate Thuy Nguyen on cloud computing and systems security.
Bowen, who hails from Valley Center, Calif., and the son of a Marine,
has been working with a robotic arm that was part of a master's thesis
project from a previous NPS student. He is using the tool to learn about
Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition, or SCADA, systems.
"After getting it working and understanding it, I was sent hardware from
the Naval Sea Systems Command, used on Navy ships, to begin
understanding and then building up the new hardware for future thesis
work," said Bowen. Through the exercise, Bowen's overall goal is to
analyze and understand the essentials of security in SCADA systems.
Bowen noted that he is contemplating becoming an Information Warfare
Officer in the Navy or to follow in his father's footsteps and choose
the Marine Corps.
Fleming, a computer science/information technology double major at the academy, is also working solo on a specific mission.
"I am working on a project relating to cloud computing which focuses on
the idea of having multiple security levels of data on the same cloud,"
he said. Fleming is developing a test suite to check the different
capabilities of security-enhanced Linux to make sure that the
multi-level security policies are being enforced.
"This will ensure that a user, and the process running at the
unclassified level, cannot read data at the top secret level, and so
on," added Fleming.
From Newport Beach, Calif., Fleming says he is very interested in the
cyber areas of the Navy. " I would love to go into the field of
information warfare (IW)," he said. After graduating from the Academy,
he says he may choose to become a Surface Warfare Officer (SWO) and
later make a lateral transfer to the IW community.
The other two interns, Hawkins and Genco, are working with Martell on
the creation of Android apps using a framework called Funf.
"This framework helps app developers create apps that collect data from
the built in sensors and probes on Android cell phones, such as GPS, the
accelerometer, the gyroscope, etc.," says Hawkins. "Hopefully, our apps
will contribute to the research being conducted by Prof. Martel."
Martell is quick to add that their efforts will indeed be of direct benefit to the future graduate studies of NPS students.
"The work that Ethan and Kyle are doing has a direct effect on our
research. The apps they write in Funf will be directly usable by NPS
students in my lab to conduct higher-level biometric-authentication
experiments. At the same time, they are getting hands-on experience in
both programming Android phones and in experimental design," said
Midshipman Kyle Hawkins is from Lonetree, Colo., and Ethan Genco is from River Falls, Wis.