Publication date: June 13, 2018

Mr. Robot entertains visitors of PHDays 8

Mr. Robot again cheered guests of Positive Hack Days. This year, people could not only play a quiz, but also upgrade their skills using hacking tools or even have an interview for a job at Positive Technologies! Over 2,000 people came to have a talk with our chatbot, and that certainly boosted its artificial ego :) Keep reading for more details.

What's new?

The robot's software underwent substantial changes. Alexander Melkikh shared upgrade details:

"We added new interactive features to our robot: in addition to contests (Quiz and Hacking Crash Course), it now has new activities—Get a Job at Positive Technologies and Meet Your Security Soulmate. Because of that, we had to rewrite the backend. Last year, we had had raw PHP that caused us a lot of problems, that's why this time we applied Falcon, an easy-to-use Python web framework."


The forum visitors enjoyed the contests. The most popular again was the Quiz. The rules are similar to Who Wants to Be a Millionaire: participants are to answer multiple-choice questions of various complexity. We prepared many sets, each containing five questions that were randomly displayed on the screen. Most questions were tongue-in-cheek, but some were intricate and related to information security, for example reverse engineering. If a participant made a mistake, the robot neglected the first law of robotics for a while and punished the unlucky contestant with a water jet shower so strong that it even bystanders got under it. So, everyone could refresh a little in the midst of PHDays :) Winning the Quiz brought no awards, because the robot believes that it's not the winning that counts, it's the taking part and enjoying the process.

No wonder the second popular contest was the Hacking Crash Course, because we wanted participants to have fun and try their hands in different subjects in a short time. This contest had three courses, about 15 seconds each. The first course, SQL Injection, was a fictitious e-banking website with a form to enter login and password. To bypass authorization, participants had to press the single quote key on the software keyboard and then click Enter. This year, participants could try out IDA and Radare disassemblers. The IDA course teaches a well-known function that allows viewing all strings in binary files and is summoned by a combination of Shift and F12. The Radare course explained how to quit the disassembler. The authors of the course meant to joke about complicated and obscure key combinations in Radare.

The robot was friendly and had prompts for participants: if someone did not know which keys to press, the correct key on the keyboard dimly lit up in several seconds, so all participants successfully completed their training. Successful completion of the course was confirmed by a certificate with a participant's photo—a webcam above the screen made a photo at the course completion.

The most complex and important part of the robot activity this year was an interview for a job at Positive Technologies. Penetration testers and incident response and application protection specialists created quizzes for applicants in various spheres. An applicant should choose one of suggested spheres and answer 5 questions from a considerable list. More than one answer could be correct for some questions. If an interview had positive results, an applicant's photo and test results were sent to the HR chat in Telegram, and a certificate was printed out. The applicant could come to the HR stand with this certificate to receive a gift and continue the interview.

The contest Meet Your Security Soulmate was similar to Tinder, a popular dating application. The only difference was that participants needed to swipe quotations of information security celebrities, not photos. Part of quotations were real, and some were generated based on original utterances. If most quotations were by the same person, the robot showed the photo of this celebrity and a participant together and turned on a romantic song.


Statistics confirmed that people are eager to communicate with artificial intelligence. More than two thousand people took part in the robot's contests during the two days of the forum. About 1,800 participants tried the Quiz (in 2017 there were 1,400 participants), and 820 got a water shower for wrong answers (1,300 people were unlucky in 2017). The Hacking Crash Course was taken by 160 people (360 in 2017). Interview for a job at Positive Technologies was taken by 226 people, and 105 participants found their security soulmate.

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