The Art of Human Hacking Part 2

Every day we are trying to fight off these simple yet effective attacks. Changing passwords and adding levels of authentications helps us feel as though our info is secure. But what do we do about the info we can’t keep under lock and key? Humans are easy creatures to manipulate if you play off of their fear and worry. In 2003 the Computer Security Institute did a survey along with the FBI and found that 77% of the companies interviewed stated a disgruntled employee as the source of a major security breach. Vontu, the data loss prevention section of Symantec says that 1 out of every 500 emails contains confidential data. There are many examples of how we trust our information to other companies. According to financial services, there are high risks of identity theft, breaches in customer privacy, workers removing sensitive data, etc. Providing statistics would take too long and would most likely make your stomach wretch so we shall not get too far into that. It is encouraged that people look into a company’s internal policies to protect customer data.

Social engineering defined, by Wikipedia is “the act of manipulating people into performing actions or divulging confidential information. While similar to a confidence trick or simple fraud, the term typically applies to trickery or deception for the purpose of information gathering, fraud, or computer system access; in most cases, the attacker never comes face-to-face with the victim.” (It’s a mouth full, we know). Webster’s Dictionary defines social as “of or pertaining to the life, welfare, and relations of human beings in a community.” By looking at both of these definitions you can piece together in your mind a picture of science that is social engineering. It is not just one singular action but instead a collaboration of skills. Acting, misdirection, influencing, behavior, etc.

Not every skill is used in each experience and it is impossible to master every one that is used. But Understanding how different skills work and when they should be used is enough to help anyone master of social engineering. However, to fully master it, educating yourself on how it is used against you is just as in not even more important. Think about those simple security questions that every website has. You, of course, pick answers that only you would know. After all, who else could know that your first pet was named Fluffy?

As sad as it is, we don’t realize the amount of information we leave out in the open. Our posts on social media about the big vacation we’re going on this summer, the absurd amount of bumper stickers and decals we put on our car, or even that quick little phone survey we take to try and win that $50 gift card to some online store. We are constantly giving out more than enough information that allows others to read our lives like open books. So, while it may be tempting to take that online quiz to figure out what kind of bread you are, it’s best that take a pass and keep your info safe. Besides, you already know that you’d get pumpernickel.

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