Using Digital systems for deception and influence

Document Type

Conference Proceeding


University of Plymouth


Faculty of Computing, Health and Science


School of Computer and Information Science




Hutchinson, W. (2007). Using digital systems for deception and influence. Paper presented at the Proceedings of the International Symposium on Human Aspects of Information Security and Assurance, HAISA 2007, 79-86. Available here


This paper examines both the present and future uses of digital technologies to deceive and influence. Its scope is the deliberate design of processes to change the behaviour of the user by deceptive and influence techniques. The paper covers the conventional design of Web page content in the process of influence campaigns by governments, businesses, pressure groups and terrorist groups to promote their causes. It progresses to more speculative uses of deceptive methods 'newer' mobile and ubiquitous technologies. These technologies have the potential for both generic and individual targeting of those to be influenced. Their techniques used and success will depend on both the time span available which would determine whether the objective is to coerce, manipulate or convert the target(s) and what stage the persuasive process is at. The analysis proceeds from the concept of 'captology' and speculates how persuasion, influence and behavioural change can be achieved via such technologies as text messaging (or, Short Messaging Service - SMS).