iSchool students partner with global technology company to create “hack-proof” security initiative

Known as Stealth, the still-developing technology will make the Internet go dark to hackers.

Five School of Information Studies students are collaborating with a global technology company to develop uses for a “hack-proof” technology called Stealth.

Stealth is a new security initiative for managing and preventing cyber-attacks. Dave Dischiave, an iSchool professor and advisor to the Stealth group, described the software as a “product or appliance that allows you to make the Internet go dark, meaning you can make it disappear.”

Photo: Katy Beals
The group holds a quick meeting in their usualiSchool working place.

When Stealth is employed on a network, it makes communications invisible to intruders, explained Eleni Dimitriou, an information management and technology senior and one of the Stealth project members. “If you can’t see it, then you can’t hack it. That’s what makes Stealth different from anything else.”

Technology company Unisys has been developing Stealth, and is now looking to extend the software. Through an application process and in-person interviews with Unisys representatives, Dischiave said, the organization selected five master and senior iSchool students to learn how to effectively deploy Stealth between now and April 2015.

Formal training began during the second week of October so that the students could understand Stealth’s underlying architecture and ultimately make it do more than it was designed to do, Dischiave said.

Unisys will supply the students with the physical hardware and software. The next phase of the project, after April 2015, will be for students to build extensions to Stealth through coding, program writing and building software.

“This is not trivial,” Dischiave said. “It's a great university corporate project and these are the kind of things that students who are serious about learning and being prepared for jobs in the industry need.”

This semester, the students will learn how Stealth works and apply it to a smart grid system. Grids manage electricity and are used by electric companies, such as National Grid, to control utilities. However “smart” grids allow the energy to be more efficiently managed.

Jason Dedrick, an iSchool professor and advisor to the group of Stealth students, is working to locate a utility company that will allow the students to apply Stealth to its grid.

“When the grid is smart you can do a lot of things that you can’t otherwise do, but when you make it smarter you make it more vulnerable to hackers,” Dedrick said. Stealth technology is fairly new on the market so it has never been applied to electrical grids before.

Stealth is different from existing technology, like spyware or antivirus protects, because it protects users from the inside as well as from the outside, Dimitriou said.

Ashay Jawale, a telecommunications and network management graduate student and member of the Stealth team, said many organizations face internal threats because employees try to tamper with data.

“Stealth is different because it creates ‘communities of interest’ or COI’s,” Jawale said. If someone in a company does not have authority to access the Human Resources department, for example, then that specific community will not even be visible for potential hackers on the inside of the same network.

Demand for “hack-proof” technology has increased following recent Internet breaches, such as those affecting Apple and Target, Dischiave said.

This, he said, is because of the increasing spread of the “Internet of Things.” This refers to the syncing of all electronic devices to the Internet, resulting in remote control of all “smart” electronic objects over a network. Devices can include refrigerators, furnaces or microwaves, for example.  

“The flipside is that once data is collected, we can tell a lot about people's behaviors and use it against them,” Dischiave said. “That’s where Stealth comes in.”

Dimitriou, the iSchool senior, said she has been surprised at the amount of time that Unisys has invested in the group of Stealth students. “One of the guys from Unisys spent two hours having a Skype meeting with us and he did it for us. He gave his time for us, which is a huge thing to me,” she said.

Dedrick said Stealth is just one example of a the iSchool’s greater approach to technology, “To get a real world opportunity is what we try to do at the iSchool, it’s experiential hands-on learning as well as the classroom work,” Dedrick said.

Jawale said he is looking forward to the boost that the Stealth project will give his resume. “It’s almost like an internship since it’s a company sponsored project,” he said. “I will not only learn about new technologies but it will give me a competitive edge when I go out looking for a job after graduation.”

This is part of what Dedrick said makes him excited to offer iSchool students this opportunity. “When people apply for the iSchool this is what they expect and it’s what we’re trying to do more of,” he said. 

gud job

Today .......the cyber space is battling with the hackers both from inside and outside....there needs to be concrete prevent the hacking...proud that this young brigade(Olevia, ashay, samarth,eleni & gerald) is working on this concrete form of STEALTH....WELLDONE GUYS......MAKE THE CYBER SPACE A BETTER PLACE TO EXPLORE .....

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