Please note: This master’s thesis presentation will be given online.
Brittany Postnikoff, Master’s candidate
David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science
This thesis establishes the new field of Robot Social Engineering. We define Robot Social Engineering as the use of social abilities and techniques by robots to manipulate others in order to achieve a goal. We build the field of Robot Social Engineering on the foundations of Human-Robot Interaction research on social robots as well as information security research on social engineering.
Social engineering attacks are the deliberate applications of manipulative social skills by an individual in an attempt to achieve a goal. The field of information security has shown that interpersonal skills, such as trust, authority, and empathy, can be used by humans against other humans to perform social engineering attacks. Meanwhile, the field of Human-Robot Interaction has shown that robots may make use of social abilities such as those used in social engineering attacks.
In this work, we argue that Robot Social Engineering attacks are possible and have already been performed, and that defenses should be developed to protect against these attacks. We support our argument by providing background on social robots and social engineering, defining Robot Social Engineering, outlining previous research that we consider to be Robot Social Engineering, describing Robot Social Engineering attacks that may be performed, and discussing the risks that can accompany Robot Social Engineering attacks.
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