Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

'Control-Alt-Hack' game lets players try their hand at computer security

Date:
July 24, 2012
Source:
University of Washington
Summary:
Do you have what it takes to be an ethical hacker? A new card game developed by computer scientists gives players a taste of life as modern computer-security professional.

Players assume the roles of characters with their own special skills. Game play involves completing missions by rolling the dice, using skills and occasionally pulling something out of a bag of tricks.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Washington

Do you have what it takes to be an ethical hacker? Can you step into the shoes of a professional paid to outsmart supposedly locked-down systems?

Now you can at least try, no matter what your background, with a new card game developed by University of Washington computer scientists.

"Control-Alt-Hack" gives teenage and young-adult players a taste of what it means to be a computer-security professional defending against an ever-expanding range of digital threats. The game's creators will present it this week in Las Vegas at Black Hat 2012, an annual information-security meeting.

"Hopefully players will come away thinking differently about computer security," said creator Yoshi Kohno, a UW associate professor of computer science and engineering.

The target audience is 15- to 30-year-olds with some knowledge of computer science, though not necessarily of computer security. The game could supplement a high school or introductory college-level computer science course, Kohno said, or it could appeal to information technology professionals who may not follow the evolution of computer security.

In the game, players work for Hackers, Inc., a small company that performs security audits and consultations for a fee. Three to six players take turns choosing a card that presents a hacking challenge that ranges in difficulty and level of seriousness.

In one mission, a player on a business trip gets bored and hacks the hotel minibar to disrupt its radio-tag payment system, then tells the manager. (A real project being presented at Black Hat this year exposes a security hole in hotel keycard systems.)

"We went out of our way to incorporate humor," said co-creator Tamara Denning, a UW doctoral student in computer science and engineering. "We wanted it to be based in reality, but more importantly we want it to be fun for the players."

This is not an educational game that tries to teach something specific, Denning said, but a game that's mainly designed to be fun and contains some real content as a side benefit. The team decided on an old-fashioned tabletop card game to make it social and encourage interaction.

Some scenarios incorporate research from Kohno's Security and Privacy Research Lab, such as security threats to cars, toy robots and implanted medical devices. The missions also touch other hot topics in computer security, such as botnets that use hundreds of hijacked computers to send spam, and vulnerabilities in online medical records.

Characters have various skills they can deploy. In addition to the predictable "software wizardry," skills include "lock picking" (for instance, breaking into a locked server room) and "social engineering" (like tricking somebody into revealing a password).

Graduate students who are current or former members of the UW lab served as loose models for many of the game's characters. Cards depict the characters doing hobbies, such as motorcycling and rock climbing, that their real-life models enjoy.

"We wanted to dispel people's stereotypes about what it means to be a computer scientist," Denning said.

The UW group licensed the game's mechanics from award-winning game designer Steve Jackson of Austin, Texas. They hired an artist to draw the characters and a Seattle firm to design the graphics. Adam Shostack, a security professional who helped develop a card game at Microsoft in 2010, is a collaborator and co-author.

Intel Corp. funded the game as a way to promote a broader awareness of computer-security issues among future computer scientists and current technology professionals. Additional funding came from the National Science Foundation and the Association for Computing Machinery's Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education.

Educators in the continental U.S. can apply to get a free copy of the game while supplies last. It's scheduled to go on sale in the fall for a retail price of about $30.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Washington. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Washington. "'Control-Alt-Hack' game lets players try their hand at computer security." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 July 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120724161014.htm>.
University of Washington. (2012, July 24). 'Control-Alt-Hack' game lets players try their hand at computer security. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120724161014.htm
University of Washington. "'Control-Alt-Hack' game lets players try their hand at computer security." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120724161014.htm (accessed October 23, 2014).

Share This



More Computers & Math News

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Chameleon Camouflage to Give Tanks Cloaking Capabilities

Chameleon Camouflage to Give Tanks Cloaking Capabilities

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 22, 2014) — Inspired by the way a chameleon changes its colour to disguise itself; scientists in Poland want to replace traditional camouflage paint with thousands of electrochromic plates that will continuously change colour to blend with its surroundings. The first PL-01 concept tank prototype will be tested within a few years, with scientists predicting that a similar technology could even be woven into the fabric of a soldiers' clothing making them virtually invisible to the naked eye. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Internet of Things Aims to Smarten Your Life

Internet of Things Aims to Smarten Your Life

AP (Oct. 22, 2014) — As more and more Bluetooth-enabled devices are reaching consumers, developers are busy connecting them together as part of the Internet of Things. (Oct. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Google's Inbox Is The Latest Gmail Competitor

Google's Inbox Is The Latest Gmail Competitor

Newsy (Oct. 22, 2014) — Google's new e-mail app is meant for greater personalization and allows users to better categorize their mail, but Gmail isn't going away just yet. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Free Math App Is A Teacher's Worst Nightmare

Free Math App Is A Teacher's Worst Nightmare

Newsy (Oct. 22, 2014) — New photo-recognition software from MicroBlink, called PhotoMath, solves linear equations and simple math problems with step-by-step results. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins