Cyber Security of Social Robots and the Internet of Things

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Researcher: Matthew Kinzler Mentor: Dr. Debbie Perouli


  • Learn about common practices developers use to build an Internet of Things (IoT) system where some action is taken based on sensor data.
  • Learn how to setup and program at least one personal assistant or social robot (such as Google Home or the JD Humanoid from EZ Robots)
  • Design and develop an IoT system that includes at least one sensor producing data that is sent to a personal assistant. The data will either be communicated directly or through a cloud connection.
  • Brainstorm and research the literature on security threats and vulnerabilities pertaining to such IoT systems. Focus on those that are specific to systems including personal assistants.
  • Outline possible ways to protect from at least one such threat/vulnerability.
  • Interact with Google Home; record voice commands and responses; comment on usability.


Week 1 - Orientation and Research General Topics Go through orientation and get set up in lab Research general topics such as networking layers and different IoT architectures; learn about the sensors and microcontrollers that will be used in this project
Week 2 - Start Learning Latex and Further Research into Different IoT Architectures Decide on the IoT software architecture we want to use for our project, at least to start with, while keeping the cybersecurity ramifications in mind Start learning Latex and adding research papers to bibliography Set up Google Home
Week 3 - Write the code for one microcontroller and sensor setup Learn how to create a network connection between this microcontroller and another device (e.g. laptop) that belongs to the same Wifi network Connect to a third party, free cloud
Week 4 - Write the code for the other microcontroller and sensor setup Create appropriate network connections to the cloud and/or to devices in the same Wifi network Work on presentation
Week 5 - Connect Google Home to the system
Week 6 - If everything is complete by this point, add the robot to the system.
Week 7 - Brainstorm and research the security vulnerabilities of the system; try to compromise the system.
Week 8 - Continue work on compromising and protecting the system; start writing research paper
Week 9 - Continue work from previous two weeks; create poster.
Week 10 - Finish research paper and poster