Baton Rouge Magnet High School Student Makes ‘Smart’ Appliances Wiser at LSU

October 09, 2023

Securing House and Home

Kaitlyn Smith is a student doing cybersecurity research in the College of Engineering and the Center for Computation & Technology at the flagship, but she’s not your average LSU student. In fact, she’s not an LSU student at all—she’s a high schooler with a passion for cybersecurity.

“Right now, I’m trying to learn as much as I can, contribute to as much as I can and spend as much time as I can at LSU just doing the stuff I love,” Smith said.

That love is for highly technical cybersecurity research, as Smith is helping to secure the 20 billion smart devices connected to the internet in homes and elsewhere around the globe, most of which are thought to be vulnerable to cyberattacks. Together with LSU students and faculty, she is developing an intrusion detection system for internet-connected appliances, such as thermostats, televisions, air conditioners, lights, stoves, refrigerators, doorbells and security cameras.

“I think a lot of people don’t realize how much stuff in their house is controlled by computers, which hackers can use to destroy your property or spy on you,” Smith said. “At my house, we have Google Home, a smart thermostat, an Alexa and a Ring doorbell. We have a smart refrigerator, too. It’s kind of crazy, thinking someone can just hack into your refrigerator and completely mask the fact they’re in your system, watching you, stealing your information and whatnot.”

Recent testing of the team’s detection algorithm has produced very promising results: 100 percent accuracy in distinguishing compromised from uncompromised devices. Once diagnosed, devices can automatically turn off and reset themselves, purging potential hackers and malware in seconds.

Kaitlyn Smith, a high school junior in Baton Rouge, is fully leveraging LSU’s K-12 outreach efforts.

Kaitlyn Smith, a high school junior in Baton Rouge, is fully leveraging LSU’s K-12 outreach efforts.

Cyber concepts on green bar

“At Baton Rouge Magnet High School, we encourage students to follow their passion while striving for excellence. For many of our students, this means doing more than what is required of them in their classes. Kaitlyn is very involved with the computer science program in the LSU College of Engineering, where she is working with mentors and professors on extensive research. We are very proud of her for continuing the legacy of excellence at Baton Rouge Magnet High School through the opportunities she’s been offered at LSU.”

Nanette McCann, Principal, Baton Rouge Magnet High School