An important thing to keep in mind when learning about social engineering is that the aspects that make up the concept are not set in stone. In order to handle a situation is to you have to do some research and gather some information. Gathering information can be seen as building a house. In order to have a strong building, you need a solid foundation. You must also be careful to not “hammer your thumb” in the process. By this, I mean you have to be careful and organize as this process can become very overwhelming. Luckily there are many tools out there for info gathering. BackTrack is a free, open-source program that provides users with over 300 tools that have the potential to surpass those that you would have to empty your pockets for.
Now that you have a few hundred megabytes of data at your disposal, where do you start? How do you train yourself to be able to think like a social engineer and be able to review data to cause a maximum impact? You could start diving into everything and throw everything at a corkboard to see what sticks and it that works for you, by all means, do so. However, say when you get hungry, you don’t just go into the kitchen, pull random items from the pantry, pour everything into a bowl, and go to town. You plan and prepare for what you want. In order to approach this world of information that you now have in front of you, you may have to put yourself into a different mindset and create different opinions. The best piece of advice would be to question everything. The way you interpret an answer could be very different than someone else, so formulate questions you want to research, and search them on the web. The internet is an important and versatile tool.
Say you are trying to learn about a local company. You already know that they have multiple social media outlets and post content frequently. Social media is cheap marketing that reaches out to a large group of people that seems to take on a mind of its own. Something you could do is look through their pages and determine what is important through what is meaningless. Look for connecting links, common topics between the sites, and try to create yourself a whole profile of the business. This applies to people too so be careful what you share.
People don’t always keep track of or properly dispose of valuable information. I can’t tell you how many times I have found a check laying in a puddle or someone’s debit card hanging out in the public laundry room dryer. When we throw something away we like to believe that it’s gone for good, it doesn’t exist anymore. Unfortunately, this is not the case. That check you tore in half and dropped in the trash bag in your car is now sitting in a gas station parking lot, waiting to give anyone your banking information. There are some individuals out there who go out of there way to look for this info, be it receipts, bills, or old medical documents. For your safety, be careful and hold onto anything with your personal info until you can dispose of it properly.
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