Evaluating Single Board Computer Clusters for Cyber Operations
USMA Research Unit Affiliation
Army Cyber Institute
The emergence of single board computers (SBCs) has enabled individuals cheap and portable access to multicore architectures. In this paper, we discuss the use of SBC clusters to assist in cyberspace operations. The small form-factor of SBCs make them highly portable, allowing soldiers to easily transport individual units and clusters. While each individual SBC is not very powerful, a cluster of SBCs can greatly increase the computational power available for cyberspace applications down range for relatively low cost. We discuss common SBC architectures and present a case study in which two clusters of SBCs are used to crack canonically “weak” passwords encoded with bcrypt. Our results show that an 8-node Parallella SBC cluster can crack password files up to 5.95 times faster than a high end laptop, at roughly half the cost. We also present several novel applications for offensive and defensive cyberspace operations using SBCs and SBC clusters. We believe that our work can be used to develop novel parallel military applications incorporating SBCs, and is useful for educating soldiers and endusers about the potentials (and dangers) of parallel processing.