Have you ever noticed that whenever you see an ad for something like a movie or video game you are bombarded by announcers saying something like “funniest movie since…” or “Absolutely exhilarating. Will keep you on the edge of your seat.” It will then be followed by a few clips out of context in order to entice you to experience their final product. Someone is already telling you how to feel about it when it is still in the middle of production. The term for this is preloading. Preloading means that you can do just as it says by targeting individuals with specific information in order to have them feel a certain way. Of course, if you are practicing social engineering you aren’t going to be showing your target a commercial. So how do you use it?
Like all aspects of social engineering, you have to look at your end result and work your way backward. Once you have a goal set you have to figure out the questions you are going to ask you target in order to know what information you want to preload to them in order to get their answers. Preloading is a skill-based on your ability to plant ideas in people’s heads. Say you are trying to sell a product. A car, some generic kitchen utility, doesn’t matter. If you learn how to phrase your suggestion so it lingers in a person’s mind and causes them to find what they may think is their own conclusion. For example, “I am so glad I found [insert product here]. The other day [situation X] happened. Under normal circumstances, I’d be having some trouble but because of I am having a much easier time…Let me know if you want me to hook you up.”
To be a successful social engineer you must be a good Elicitor. You can’t be afraid to talk to people. You should offer advice when you have a real solution. Most importantly you need to offer a non-judgmental ear for people to talk to about their problems. Fairly often a social engineer realizes that they have this skill before they turn to social engineering. If you find interacting with people easy you may gravitate to jobs that make use of these skills. If you are capable of showing someone that you understand, care, and then provide a viable solution then you have the foundation set for building social engineering.
Some things to know when eliciting information. Don’t be afraid to appeal to someone’s ego but do it subtlely to not create discomfort. Expressing a mutual interest in the scenario you are working when you are trying to further contact. You want people to remember you. If you can, make a deliberately false statement. People like to correct one another and will unknowingly give away information away without thinking. Again, don’t be afraid to provide a little information in order to keep the conversation going. Have you ever been on a date with someone and while you are trying to get to know them, they only provide one-word responses? Pretty off-putting, right? But, if you provide the same energy to the interaction you can push the limits of what you can learn from someone.
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