Development of game-based learning scenarios for social engineering and security risk management in the manufacturing industry

For the project
Mittelstand 4.0 – Kompetenzzentrum Stuttgart

About the project


Two complex analogue game scenarios are to be developed and tested as part of the project Mittelstand 4.0 – Kompetenzzentrum Stuttgart. These game scenarios will then be tested by the IT security working group. The aim is to sensitize the employees of small and medium-sized companies to the topic of information security in a playful way. To help implement these measures, the project’s cooperation partners and the working group itself are to be provided with the two game scenarios for their own events.


The project is focused on devising and developing two complex analogue game-based learning scenarios for small and medium-sized companies with small digital additions. For the target group in the manufacturing sector, the learning scenarios are focused on social engineering, while the emphasis shifts to security risk management for the group comprising middle management in production.


FZI Forschungszentrum Informatik Karlsruhe



Game-Based Learning

Game-based learning allows learners to actively engage with content instead of being exposed to information passively (via lectures, videos, or reading). It offers the possibility of experimentation and allows mistakes to be made in the process. Learning games are motivating and support behavioural change [1]. The specific focus tailored to the particular target group is important for the design and conception of the project and for adjusting the material to the day-to-day experience of the target groups. This connection to real situations and challenges improves the learning success [2].
Analog vs. Digital

Analogue & Digital

Analogue or digital – which promises the most success? The mix of analogue and digital elements has worked to good effect in previous research projects [3]. A third element inherent to analogue games should also not be underestimated – the interaction between players, which encourages discussion and the direct exchange of experience and opinions. These aspects can be grouped under the term “authentic learning” [4] and are part of the implementation strategy for our project.
Analog vs. Digital

Spiral of Transformative Interaction

The “spiral of transformative interaction” (see figure) illustrates how, starting from the goals of an organization, the information critical to success can be secured through training, information, and sensitization. The ideal of a living safety culture, which presupposes transparency in an organization’s goals, should involve all employees in the decision-making processes. This promotes a culture of sharing, cooperation, and knowledge transfer in all areas of an organization. The arrows on the edge of the spiral band illustrate the constantly repeating process. [5].



Training must be distinguished from awareness raising. Sensitization measures should create awareness of information security and enable individual participants to recognize the importance of the topic, reflect on their own behaviour and react accordingly [6]. Training, on the other hand, aims to build deeper knowledge and skills. The development of learning scenarios is primarily concerned with raising awareness. This should emotionalize and motivate the participants for the topics, thus laying the foundation for continuous training.

Learning scenarios

Social Engineering

The Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) understands social engineering as a method that exploits human characteristics such as helpfulness, trust, fear, and respect for authority to gain unauthorized access to information or IT systems [7]. According to the study “Bluff me if U can”, the term social engineering often has positive associations [8]. However, this type of interpersonal manipulation is one of the most frequent types of attack directed at companies in Germany for the purposes of data theft, industrial espionage, and sabotage [9].

Depending on the type of attack, a distinction can be made between technology-based and human-based social engineering attacks [10]. Technology-based attacks include phishing and the use of malware, while human-based attacks include identity change, identity theft, and shoulder surfing.

The game-based learning scenario to be developed will take up the various aspects and facets of social engineering, taking into account psychological principles, and will incorporate the needs and specific characteristics of the manufacturing industry.

Security Risk Management

In general terms, risk management is defined in ISO Guide 73 as “coordinated activities for the management and control of an organization, taking into account risks” [11]. Security risk management takes information security risks into account.

An introduction to risk management is provided by BSI Standard 200-3, which, among other things, provides guidance on threat identification, risk classification, and risk management so that the results can be integrated into the existing security concept [12]. The management of information security risks is also covered in ISO/IEC 27005 [13].

The learning scenario is intended to sensitize the management of SMEs to the fundamental importance of risk management and alert them to potential risks. The overall aim is to enable them to apply risk management, to detect weaknesses and thus to avoid and reduce risks, and, if necessary, to accept the residual risk. Risk management also includes communication with the security areas and the risk manager. The implicit intention of the scenario is therefore also to act as a kind of communication accelerator in mediating between management and security protagonists or risk managers.


Prof. Margit Scholl

Project Management

Stefanie Gube

Operational Project Management

Peter Koppatz

Project Team Member

Denis Edich

Project Team Member

Dietmar Pokoyski

Project partner known_sense



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[8] known_sense. (2015).
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[9] Berg, A., & Niemeier, M. (6. November 2019).
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[12] BSI (Hrsg.). (2017).
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[13] Bitkom (Hrsg.). (n.a.).
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