Name: Alex Lloyd
Internship, Co-op, or Research Site: General Dynamics Mission Systems
Position Title: Software Engineering Intern
Major or Program: Computer Science, B.S.
Current Class Level: Senior
Work Term: Summer 2022
Tell us about your internship, co-op, or research opportunity, including your day-to-day responsibilities.
Researching & beginning the search for network vulnerabilities in Hue Bridge smart lightbulb devices. First month centered around researching known vulnerabilities, functionality, & reproducing a hardware hack so that we could analyze the file system. Included analyzing its binaries in Ghidra.
Second month centered around scanning vulnerable ports & using our knowledge of the file system, remote control of the device, & online resources to identify which process operated on each port. Identifying a given process on a vulnerable port, we then focused our analysis of that particular binary & identified where it decrypts information. I was the first to capture packets destined for that port & the first to extract decrypted data from memory using a cross-compiled server on the device itself.
I then split the internship team in half to pursue two potentially viable methods of fuzzing - AFL++'s Unicorn mode & QEMU mode - with myself leading the QEMU team & another UMBC student intern leading the Unicorn team. My team was again the first to begin fuzzing properly, using my captured packets as an input corpus. Fuzzing is important as it spams certain binaries with variations of data until a crash occurs & a vulnerability can be found & exploited.
I then helped my fellow interns to compile & deliver a presentation of our findings & next steps for this project.
Describe the process of obtaining your position. When did you hear of the position and submit your application?
I applied via LinkedIn in Fall 2021, had an interview in Spring 2022, & landed the internship to start at the beginning of June 2022. I found the position via LinkedIn's weekly notifications for jobs fitting my specifications.
What have you enjoyed the most about your position or organization?
Working in an Ubuntu VM, which introduced me to Linux & the use of apt package management, & inspired me to install Linux on my T2 security chip'd MacBook, using a modified kernel I found online to work with the unsupported hardware. I now have Windows, macOS, & Zorin OS triple boot on my MacBook & am using Linux more regularly as a casual operating system.
How do you believe you have made an impact through your work?
I am dead certain I made an impact, because I was asked to stay on & extend my internship into the Fall semester, where I am building on the work my team created during the summer semester. Currently, we are working on increasing the speed of the fuzzing process.
What advice would you give to another student who is seeking an internship or similar experience?
Quantity is king. Obviously, if you are fortunate enough to have an "in" for a given organization (insider knowledge), then certainly exploit that advantage as much as you are able, but in my case &, I imagine, for most folks early in their careers, you won't have that. You have to go through the application & interview process. Therefore, you are going to be one among many applying for each opportunity, so the way you get ahead is by trying everything. Spam as many applications as possible to opportunities that fit your skillset, taking care to cater your résumé &/or cover letter to the most promising opportunities, & simply keep at it. My approach was to apply to three different opportunities every week for the entirety of the Fall semester in 2021, & it's from this approach that I landed my internship. Of countless applications, I landed only three interviews, & only succeeded at the final one with General Dynamics.
In addition, take advantage of avenues that I did not, such as career fairs & the advice of the career center, & if all else fails, pursue projects or research opportunities within academia. If you prioritize quantity, & get your résumé out to every single one of these areas, & persist, then you cannot fail.
My final piece of advice: know your core classes. For student internships, perhaps the best places to apply, in every interview they will ask about simple, fundamental concepts in your major. If you have succeeded in your classes, you will be able to answer these questions & land your internship.
Please provide a short reflection or quote about what you liked most about your position / earning internship credit / working with the Career Center.
I get paid to hack lightbulbs. Believe-you-me, there is a job for everyone.
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