Since emerging in 2012 as an inexpensive platform for teaching students about code and the machines that run it, the Raspberry Pi has become something of a digital Swiss Army knife: a tiny, highly adaptable tool that can be programmed to do everything from emulating classic video games to controlling airborne drones.
Thanks to its low price (some versions start as low as $5), customizable operating system and wide support in the open source community, there are now hundreds of DIY projects for the Raspberry Pi.
A few headline-grabbing Pi projects demonstrate the dark potential of a computer that’s smaller than a credit card, running specialized code to hack laptops and other devices via USB port. But the use of the Raspberry Pi as a security enforcer is taking the limelight away from hackers, particularly in the Internet of Things. For example, the Sweet Security project by Travis Smith uses the Raspberry Pi to defend connected devices. Building on 20-year-old open source code that can monitor for network intrusions, Sweet Security shows that it’s possible to add strong security to IoT rollouts, on a very cost-effective basis.
There’s also a growing movement among hobbyists to turn the Raspberry Pi into a full-fledged alternative to pricey home-security systems. With the ability to connect peripherals like motion sensors, video cameras and water sensors, these tiny computers can track and notify homeowners about almost any aspect of their home, from energy usage to identifying when non-family members are present.
The legion of Raspberry Pi fans point to the fact that unlike home security solutions marketed by big companies, all the data you and your family generate in a Pi-reliant system stays under your control, shared only if you choose.
Even in the age of online sharing, makers and information-creators are increasingly interested in controlling and safeguarding their valuable intellectual property. The Raspberry Pi is an unexpected, useful addition to the future of security.