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.
  • Exploit at least one of the system's possible threats/vulnerabilities
  • Interact with Google Home; record voice commands and responses; comment on usability.


Week Description Status
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 Incomplete
Week 6 - If everything is complete by this point, add the robot to the system. Incomplete
Week 7 - Brainstorm and research the security vulnerabilities of the system; try to compromise the system. Incomplete
Week 8 - Continue work on compromising and protecting the system; start writing research paper Incomplete
Week 9 - Continue work from previous two weeks; create poster. Incomplete
Week 10 - Finish research paper and poster Incomplete