UAlbany Stands Up New Research Labs

The State University of New York at Albany (UAlbany) established two new labs to examine the future of open-source intelligence (OSINT) and cybersecurity vulnerabilities in everyday smart devices, adding to the university’s growing research ecosystem.

The Open Source Intelligence (OSI) and Hack-Internet of Things (IoT) labs – housed within UAlbany’s College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity (CEHC) – join the already half dozen research entities operated by CEHC professors, with more scheduled for launch soon.

“These new labs will play integral roles in our college’s growing research ecosystem,” CEHC Associate Dean for Research, Gary Ackerman said in a press release. “Under their dynamic leads, we expect them not only to enhance the current capabilities of CEHC’s other labs and research centers but to stand on their own in making valuable contributions to some of the largest challenges facing 21st-century society.”

The OSI Lab, directed by Assistant Professor Stephen Coulthart, will research and analyze open-source techniques and tools in a wide variety of applications such as social media monitoring, digital forensics, and geospatial analysis.

“One does not need to look far to see how the explosion in open-source information is changing how we think about security,” Coulthart said. “The purpose of this lab is to develop and share best practices around open-source intelligence and prepare the next generation of homeland security professionals.”

In addition to working with CEHC faculty and students, Coulthart plans to host professional development seminars and produce open-source intelligence products for external stakeholders.

The Hack-IoT Lab, which will be directed by Assistant Professor Benjamin Yankson, will examine cybersecurity vulnerabilities in a wide variety of smart devices that are available for consumer purchase.

As the use of IoT devices become more widespread, serious concerns increase regarding their security and the vulnerabilities they might present, including personal privacy and critical infrastructure.

Yankson and his team of student interns are investigating and assessing IoT hardware, software, and the all-important nexus between them, with a focus on identifying and mitigating security vulnerabilities.

“We are focused on any small-scale IoT device that can be connected to your home,” said Yankson. “We want to both help consumers understand the privacy risks and work with companies to make their devices more secure.”