Hands-On Cybersecurity Curriculum using a Modular Training Kit

Asmit De, Mohammad Nasim Imtiaz Khan, Karthikeyan Nagarajan, Abdullah Ash Saki, Mahabubul Alam, Taylor Steven Wood, Matthew Johnson, Manoj Varma Saripalli, Yu Xia, Stephanie Cutler, Swaroop Ghosh, Kathleen M. Hill, Annmarie Ward

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


There is an exponential growth in the number of cyber-attack incidents resulting in significant financial loss and national security concerns. Secure cyberspace has been designated as one of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Grand Challenges in engineering. Broadly, the security threats are targeted on software programs, operating system and network with the intention to launch confidentiality, integrity and availability violations. Existing undergraduate and graduate-level cybersecurity education curriculum rely primarily on didactic teaching methods with little focus on student centered, inquiry-based teaching, known to improve student learning. With growing number of security incidents taking place, it is of utmost importance to prepare a workforce equipped with knowledge of the threat space and existing state-of-the-art solutions. Such comprehensive understanding is only possible by a dedicated hands-on course on cybersecurity where students can learn the key concepts by editing the hardware, software and OS, and, network policies. Unfortunately, such extensive and deep flexibilities are not provided in current cybersecurity curriculum. In this paper, we introduce a hands-on and modular self-learning Cybersecurity Training (CST) Kit to advance cybersecurity education. Students can promptly apply newly acquired knowledge on the CST Kit as part of the learning process. This Kit accompanies Do-It-Yourself (DIY) training modules that is used to model and investigate cybersecurity issues and their prevention to all levels of the cybersecurity workforce, including undergraduate and graduate students and K-12 science and technology teachers. The Kit also covers various aspects of cybersecurity issues including, hardware, software, operating system and network security. A coursework has been developed on hardware security for senior undergraduate and graduate students using the Kit. A preliminary survey conducted among students who were introduced to the modular board to implement hardware security threats such as, side-channel attack shows an 120% improvement in their understanding after the CST Kit based activities. The components of the CST Kit have also been used in a 4-day summer workshop for K-12 teachers. Teachers took pre- and post- concept inventories to assess their learning of content throughout the workshop and the results indicated improvement of 58%. These assessments focused on vulnerabilities and specific types of attacks, system security, data transmission and encryption, permutations and combinatorics, and binary numbers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jul 26 2021
Event2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference, ASEE 2021 - Virtual, Online
Duration: Jul 26 2021Jul 29 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Engineering


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