Through Google Glass -- Preparing Digital Forensics and Cyber Security Education

Google Glass, the voice-controlled glasses that act as a wearable computer, recently became available to a handful of initial testers. After participating in an application process and submitting a proposal on how I would use the product, I was selected as a Glass Explorer for Google. As an educator, I emphasized that Google Glass had tremendous educational value, and could be used to develop curricula for middle and high school students on cyber security and digital forensics. This would help contribute to Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education, and the technology would allow me to share my passion and empower others to choose an excellent career path. As a cyber security professional, I articulated excitement about how Google Glass can be utilized to change the face of digital forensics and how we keep our nation and various corporations secure.

A closeup of Jonathan Rajewski's Glass.

I was lucky enough to be able to travel to New York to pick up my own Google Glass, specifically for the purpose of using it for forensics education at my employer, Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont. Google's latest development possesses the potential to change the way cyber security and forensics are taught at colleges around the country. It gives students like ours the potential to perform high-level technical research through a practical, hands-on approach, all while sharing and memorializing their work in a seamless manner. Through encouraging the development of more forensics-oriented niche programs at higher education institutions, future IT and security professionals will be better prepared to address advanced cyber security threats to both public and private institutions.

Google NYC Glass fitting

Imagine you are an incident responder or law enforcement professional who normally responds to serious network breaches on large corporate networks or performs search warrants. Would it not be amazing to be able to document what is going on in the heat of the moment? Having been involved in many such network security incidents and search warrants, and looking back at the documentation process, I realize how Google Glass could help one quickly memorialize details of an event without needing to pull out a separate camera or special equipment.

Of course, cyber security and forensics education professionals need to invest in a proactive approach to properly educate their students and equip them for entrance into a highly competitive and complex market. Are colleges up to the test? This depends completely on the willingness of higher education institutions to expand to meet the needs of current and prospective students and the technology industry. At Champlain College this fall, I will be teaching a course on mobile device forensics. In this course, I plan on using Google Glass as both a teaching tool to record information and as a device for students to forensically examine and learn more about how the technology works and how investigators could leverage the details found for their cases.

Perhaps devices like Google Glass will provide an impetus to change the cyber security and forensics education landscape. This technology is not designed to replace our current computers or smartphones, but to compliment them. After having Google Glass for just 24 hours, I can tell you that it has some amazing capabilities and potential. For example, while in New York City, I was able to walk around without needing to stare at my phone to find the nearest subway station or to pull my phone out of my pocket to record a video of Times Square. I could do all of this by just talking in my normal voice to Google Glass while keeping my eyes on the thousands of people, vehicles, and various hazards that present themselves in a large city.

Imagine being able to instantly do any of these things. How helpful would it be to you or your industry?

Technology developed by Google and other corporations is just uncovering the surface of the future of cyber security and forensics. Colleges and universities have a great opportunity to prepare their students for these high-demand fields through rigorous niche education involving the practical application of devices like Google Glass. It remains to be seen what the implications are for this technology and others currently in development, but the future of our national and private security depends on it.

Jonathan Rajewski is the Director of Senator Patrick Leahy Center for Digital Investigation and Assistant Professor of Computer & Digital Forensics at Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont, a private institution that offers bachelor's and master's degrees in professionally-focused programs balanced by an interdisciplinary core curriculum.