DEFCON is the world's largest annual hacker conference that took place on July 30 - August 2 in Las Vegas – according to their website, in 2008 it was attended by over 8,000 people. DEFCON follows another well-known computer security conference, called
BLACKHAT, that takes place in Las Vegas as well.


Several members of the group independently submitted abstracts to the DEFCON-17 CFP based on the work they had completed. We were fortunate to have three seperate talks accepted. While the three talks covered different topic areas they embodied what CVORG is all about. Their work and slides are listed below. You many contact them directly with any questions of concerns you may have.

Hacking the WiiMote and Wii Fit to help the disabled - Three undergraduates (Lawrence Aiello, Josh Marks, and Rob Rehrig) demonstrated how components from the Nintendo Wii could be used to assist those with disabilities interact with a computer. The system they designed made use of the WiiMote and Wii Fit to present the user with a form of input which required nothing more than control of ones head and balance. [slides] [abstract]

Hardware Black Magic: Building devices with FPGAs - A panel of CVORG members (Dr Fouad Kiamilev, Corey Lange, Furkan Cayci, Rodney McGee, Ryan Hoover, Ryan Van Antwerp, Stephen Janansky, and Tyrell Fawcett) gave a three hour tutorial on the in's and out's of FPGAs, VHDL/Verilog, and integrated development enviroments. The group went step by step through explaining what an FPGA was, how it worked, how does one program it, and what can it be used for. Included were several tutorial and demonstrations of exactly how the tools worked, and some cool things to do with an FPGA. *NOTE* If there is any material from the presentation that you would like a copy of, please feel free to contact us. We will glady provide it. [slides] [abstract]

Hardware Trojans: Infiltrating the Faraday Cage - Stephen Janansky and Nick Waite continued the CVORG tradition of taking a look at hardware security. This time they shifted their focus to an application that struck close to home for many. Their talk detailed how the hardware within a PC could be used to create covert communications channels over the powerlines. With some slight modifications the system could be made more robust that it could escape a SCIF, like those used in government facilities. [slides] [abstract]


CVORG @ DEFCON17 - Hacking The Wiimote to Help the Disabled from Ryan Hoover on Vimeo.

Why did we go?

To many DEFCON may seem like a normal security conference. After all, it is a place where people show up and give presentations discussing things such as computer/network vulnerabilities. To CVORG however, DEFCON has quickly become much more than that. Recently we've come to realize that not only is DEFCON a great educational experience, it is also an important life experience as well. The energy that the group returns with from the conference provides them the inspiration and open mindness needed to complete the work they do.

It is for this reason that the conference has become so important to it's members. Last year a group of 8 students traveled out to the conference. This year the group totaled 14, bringing new members along for the journey. With each year those interested increase, and the knowledge and information the group brings back is fed back to the general population to inspire and recruit more. The 'DEFCON'-effect has really shaped the way the group faces not only education but also their work and research.

Who are we?

CVORG is a research group located at the University of Delaware's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in Newark, Delaware. We specialize in making electronic devices, software-hardware integration, reverse engineering, and systems engineering. Security has been a "topic of interest" for many in CVORG and was the main reason for the group attending DEFCON-16. By looking at security from a hardware background, the group leverages a unique insight into the world of security and the roles of hardware in it.

What do we do for fun?

The group also likes to design devices for fun, and it is common place to find students in the lab at odd hours of the night constructing contraptions. While others may not appreciate this, CVORG embraces the creativity of students by providing them the resources necessary to accomplish their goals. With a unique focus on undergraduate education (see the roster for yourself) and getting students into the practical aspects of engineering as quick as possible, CVORG attempts to foster the creative spirit that is sometimes squashed in other academic enviroments. For instance one student, Josh Marks (a sophomore at the time), was simply given access to the CVORG lab and produced a frequency triggered power box which, when connected to AC lights and fed audio, produced quite the impressive show (seen here).

Thanks to our sponsors

We would like to thank all our sponsors who helped make our trip possible. Especially in these economic times, you pulled through for us and made this trip possible. Whether you donated money to fund the trip or donated prizes to be given away, it was all greatly appreciated. Thank you for supporting the education of these students as well as those who benefited from their presentations. Please, if you enjoyed our presentation or won one of the prizes, please be sure to thank these people and organizations. We appreciate it all greatly!


If you want CVORG to design or to reverse-engineer your electronic devices, or you have questions about our research, or you are interested in joining our team, send me an email. I manage this research group and I am responsible for the content of this webpage.

Fouad Kiamilev
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
University of Delaware