Cyber Security with the B4 Computer Processor Kit
The B4 Computer Processor kit comes with a unique software library that interfaces between the B4 and the included Arduino Uno. Its main purpose is to facilitate the programming of the B4 from the convenience of a laptop. However, it can also be used to hack into the B4.
This can be an Eldorado for cyber security hacking exercises for students. It is possible to hack the library so that the Automatic programmer module interferes with the normal operation of the B4 at runtime. For example, students can hack the B4 to perform subtraction when adding, or flip bits in the memory modules. It is quite entertaining and instructional for students to realise that hardware can get hacked at such a low level that no virus scanner would be able to detect it.
By conducting cyber security attacks in the B4, the impacts of these hacking exercises are contained in the B4 environment and do not impact the safe and reliable operation of the connected laptop computers.
On a practical matter, students can speed up the self-programming of the B4. It is intentionally kept slow in the default implementation of the library to allow students to follow the process, but it can be optimised to run much faster.
Another idea, which we have prototyped, is to attach an Arduino WIFI shield to a B4 to remote-program it from a laptop via Wifi.
By hacking into the B4 library, students learn about low-level attack vectors in the computer processor and discover ways to increase its abilities.