News of the Institute of Media Informatics

„The Social Engineer“ nominated for Deutschen Computerspielpreis (German Computer Game Award)

Ulm University

Virtual Reality game by Fabian Fischbach, Pascal Jansen (Research Group Human-Computer Interaction) and Daniel Hirschle

A student developer team was nominated for the Deutschen Computerspielpreis 2021, category: newcomer - serious games. The goal of the game is to sensitize for operational security issues.

Social engineers spy the personal environment of their victims and falsify identities to gain access to secret information and sensitive data. In the thus baptised computer game, the user slips into the role of a spy and has to retrieve design drafts and financial data of a fictitious enterprise. This often does not involve sophisticated cyber-attack techniques. As an example, the user has to look through dust bins and place a USB device in a freely accessible server. The student developers applied virtual reality to have the player move and interact freely in a simulated world.
"The goal of this serious game is to convey knowledge about the diversity of social engineering attacks in a playful and realistic manner." explain the developers Fabian Fischbach and Pascal Jansen. These two students of the master program media informatics have designed and implemented the game as part of the project course User-Centered Design for Interactive Systems offered and supervised by the research group Human-Computer Interaction. Daniel Hirschle, a student of business mathematics, later joined the team. Overall, the student group invested thirteen months of work.
The students came up with the initial game idea themselves, but the project was supervised and advised by Prof. Enrico Rukzio and Tobias Drey, research group Human-Computer Interaction, and Dr. Julian Frommel, a former member of the research group Pervasive Human Interfaces. "The danger of social engineering is underestimated in many areas. According to the Bundesverband Informationswirtschaft, Telekommunikation und neue Medien, every fifth company was targeted by this kind of attack. The lack of awareness to social engineering attacks of all co-workers often leads to successful intrusions." Enrico Rukzio underlines.
The game developers also co-operated with the Ulm-based IT security company Schutzwerk to render the possible ways of intrusion close to reality. This closeness to real life and the fun while gaming to become familiar with weaknesses in each security chain convinced the expert jury of the Deutsche Computerspielpreis to nominate the prototype for the newcomer award. "Futur possibilities of application in gaming as well as serious learning spur the fantasy for further possible, also commercial development of the project." the jury stated.
The nomination to the award is endowed with 25 000 Euro.

The institute of media informatics congratulates to this recognition!

Related Publications:
Pascal Jansen, Fabian Fischbach (2020)
The Social Engineer: An Immersive Virtual Reality Educational Game to Raise Social Engineering Awareness
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