There are times where we all think about being someone else. I’m sure you have all imagined what it would be like to just switch places with someone. Be it a famous movie star with a luxurious social life, your coworker down the hall who got that promotion you wanted, or maybe you just want to be a little skinnier. “Yea, thanks for reminding me that I have flaws. Now, what is the point?” Well in order to become proficient in the art of social engineering you have to learn to become anyone. This doesn’t you have to learn how to use makeup and prosthetics and assume someone’s identity. (Unless you feel like going that far. That’s up to you).
So how do you fix the dilemma? The solution, pretexting. Some people would just it is just a story or a lie that you act out during your engagement but it is a little more intrusive than that. It is the background story paired with how you are dressed, your grooming/hygiene, personality, attitude, etc. Your overall presentation helps to define this character you are trying to show yourself to be. We were told as kids to not judge a book by its cover, but we all do, that’s just part of being human. You’re going to take advantage of this. The more solid your pretext is, the more believable you become.
Say you were to encounter someone who is having an issue with there bank account and you take this as a perfect opportunity to get someone’s card info. If you approach them and claim you just so happen to work for their specific bank and would be willing to “help”, but you are wearing a beaten up hoodie and your hat is backward, odds are they aren’t going to take your offer. But if you happen to be wearing a suit and keep your posture upright then you appear more believable. The internet is a completely different story though. There is a saying, that on the internet men are men, women are women, and children are FBI agents waiting to get you. While certainly ridiculous, it does have some truth to it and malicious hackers have been taking advantage of it for years.
World-renowned social engineer Chris Nickerson once stated that pretexting is not acting or playing a part. It’s not about living a lie, but actually becoming that person. You are, in every fiber of your being, the person you are portraying. What is pretexting though? It is a science. It is defined as the act of creating an invested scenario to persuade a targeted victim to release information or perform some action. This is where your information gathering skills come into play. They will either make or break your interaction. Many social engineers will develop many pretexts throughout their career and it all begins with your research. Learning what your target needs before stepping in with a pre set speech is prudent for success.
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