Raspberry Pi: 4 favorite projects – with a security flavor

Time to grab a piece of Pi. Polish up your security skills and have fun at the same time with these cool Raspberry Pi projects, just in time for Pi Day
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Pi Day

Over the course of the quarantine, many of us have spent time exploring new interests and hobbies – and an increasingly popular one is single-board computing (SBC). Raspberry Pi is the most recognizable SBC and for the past year, hobbyists have been snapping them up. In the early days of the pandemic, people were even using the Pi to build things like DIY temperature monitors.

Unfortunately, users with less honorable intentions have also used this time to sharpen their skills. That makes staying safe on the internet more challenging – and more important – than ever.

[ Hello, easy IT experiments. Read also: How Raspberry Pi and Kubernetes work together. ]

4 Raspberry Pi projects to try

With that in mind, I thought I’d share some cool projects that IT and security professionals can use to up-level their skills (and impress the boss) using Raspberry Pi.

1. USB key sanitizer

If you work in security, you’ve probably had someone show up at your office with a questionable USB drive they want you to check out. (In fact, the “I found this USB drive” tactic is a classic red team war game scenario.) The Computer Incident Response Center in Luxembourg has released a tool that lets you safely and securely scan these questionable drives for malware and viruses. This is an excellent entry-level Raspberry Pi project with real-world applications that lets new users test the waters.

2. Dashboarding with Grafana

Security and IT teams are overwhelmed with tools and toggling around is inefficient and wastes time. Make yourself and everyone on your team more efficient with a new dashboard – after all, everyone loves a sleek dashboard in their Ops center. With a Raspberry Pi and Grafana, you can build a customizable dashboard or use one of thousands of free dashboard templates. Maybe you can even talk your boss into buying a 60-inch UHD monitor to display these dashboards (and catch the game during those weekend maintenance windows.)

[ Raspberry Pi beginner? Get the cheat sheet: Getting started with Raspberry Pi. ]

3. Network monitor

We all need to know what devices are on our networks. For sites with sensitive information, such as financial services offices, it might be important to know when a new device signs on at the moment it joins the network. More advanced than many others, the Networkscan Raspberry Pi automatic network device scanner sends an alert to your phone if a new Bluetooth device is seen, or a new system joins your network.

4. Facial recognition

Want to dive into a super-advanced project? Here’s a guide to setting up facial recognition using Raspberry Pi. Facial recognition is increasingly being used for building access and site monitoring. It’s a relatively easy way of tracking who is coming and going, and it’s especially useful in the age of social distancing. What’s most impressive about this project is that it requires the user to train an AI model – something that will definitely have future applications.

Happy Pi Day

This year, Pi Day coincides with the first anniversary of the pandemic’s major impact on the United States. Many of us in the IT and cybersecurity realm have been running full steam ahead since then. If you haven’t taken the time to invest in yourself and pick up a new hobby, now is a great time to start.

That said, there are tons of IT and security-related projects out there. In the coming months, many workers will return to offices for at least part of the week. If none of the projects described here catches your eye, imagine what the return to the office will look like and explore ways you can use Raspberry Pi to make your life easier. A bonus: You’ll score points from the boss at the same time.

Happy Pi Day!

[ To learn more, get the eBooks: Raspberry Pi: How to Get Started and Running Kubernetes on Your Raspberry Pi Homelab. ]

Jerry Gamblin is director of security research at Kenna Security. Gamblin's interest in security ignited in 1989 when he hacked Oregon Trail on his 3rd grade class Apple IIe. As a security evangelist, researcher and analyst, he has been featured on numerous blogs, podcasts and has spoken at security conferences around the world.