Our March speaker is Justin Troutman, creator of PocketBlock. Ultimately, PocketBlock is about advancing security education and literacy, using cryptography as a driver.
PocketBlock is the first initiative in a cross-disciplined space he's dubbed CRUX, or cryptography + user experience. PocketBlock's interactive curricula aims to introduce the concepts behind modern cryptography, by scaling down, and sometimes completely stripping away, the mathematical complexities; instead, it relies heavily on visuals and "moves", instead of formulaic calculations. Because of the malleability and scalability of this approach, it's suitable for everyone from an 8-year-old grade schooler all the way to a tenured developer.
Cultivated through various workshops at Cal Poly SLO's EPIC, Facebook's Hacktober and Hacker Girls Summer Camp, and r00tz Asylum at Defcon, PocketBlock serves as a bridge between classical and modern cryptography; it's an effective catalyst within STEAM initiatives for making cryptography accessible as a potential career path, and also encourages more meaningful dialogue between seasoned developers tasked with implementing strong cryptography, yet without prior knowledge.
During Privacy Lab, Justin will take us through a quick look at Pockenacci, an authenticated block cipher for introducing the concepts of key schedules, S-boxes, and P-boxes. He'll also discuss current development of new ciphers, including a scaled down version of the Advanced Encryption Standard. Also in the works is a narrative-driven, episodic interactive Web adventure (e.g., think Zork in 2017) that involves making and breaking ciphers, PocketBlock style, in order to complete missions and level up.