The Growing Threat Social Engineering Poses to Organizations… Is Your Team Equipped?

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This past week, FireEye released its “Hacking the Street” report indicating a group of highly sophisticated attackers exploited Wall Street using social engineering instead of malware or other technical attack vectors. The group, known as FIN4, initiated their attack through information-gathering. They reportedly contacted  an array of publicly traded pharmaceutical, health care and biotechnology organizations to pick up Wall Street terminology.  The group then used the merger and acquisition lingo in extremely convincing phishing emails to con professionals working in financial services into believing in the legitimacy of the email.  The emails were  filled with Visual Basic Applications (VBA) macros […] Continue Reading >

Why Do We Care About Social Media

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The great thing about the proliferation of social media involves how much more connected we feel as humans. We are, after all, social animals. We share photos of our children, updates about how we’re feeling and funny cat videos. Social media works not because of the technology involved (i.e., Facebook, Twitter, etc) but because of our innate desire to share things amongst each other. Why is this important to understand? Because social media has changed many of us in very fundamental ways. Because we feel safe behind the polished glass of our computers, we are now more likely to share […] Continue Reading >

What Social Engineers Can Learn from the Bobo Doll

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As social engineers, it behooves us to have a deep understanding of why people take the actions that they do.  Although we’ll probably never have complete insight into another, the topic of today’s blog is observational learning. In short, observational learning is learning that takes place by watching someone else model behavior.This concept was demonstrated by a really interesting experiment conducted by psychologist Albert Bandura in 1961.  He found that kids imitated specific aggressive behavior demonstrated by adult models against a Bobo doll. Continue Reading >

The Truth about Obligations

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Many people probably don’t think about the concept of obligation being an aspect of influence. However, what is obligation? Typically, it’s a feeling based on norms, morals, even manners and roles we play in life. These feelings will often spur action. If we accidentally bump into someone, we feel we should apologize as a polite member of society. Or, as a spouse or parent, we will (hopefully) feel compelled to look after our family members. Continue Reading >

Emotions and Motivations

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The field of social engineering deals heavily with human motivation. In order to influence people’s behavior and feelings it is useful to be familiar with some basic theories and research on this subject. As motivation is a vast topic, we are only highlighting a few simple ideas and studies in this blog. Emotion can play a large role in the formation of a person’s motivation. When asked by researchers, subjects report a more positive view of their life when it is sunny and a more negative view when it is rainy. Something as simple as the weather can impact perspective […] Continue Reading >

RSA 2014: The Wrap Up

Social-Engineer, Inc. loaded up cast and crew to spend the week in San Francisco for RSA 2014.  We were an hour into the first day and we knew one thing; we should have brought comfortable shoes and some massive umbrellas. With the venue extending through the entire Moscone Center, there were acres of exhibitors and presentations to see. Our team, although amazing, ended up getting soaked the first day due to some much needed rain in San Francisco.   Continue Reading >

“Help Wanted” Leads To Identity Theft

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As professional social engineers, we would like to think that we are better than average at protecting our personal information and spotting dubious scams.  However, recently there is an interesting and sneaky way in which scammers are exploiting people when they least expect it. The Help Wanted Scam When you spot a “Help Wanted” ad, keep in mind that you could potentially be giving an identity thief the help he wants. Thieves have scammed victims by creating the illusion that they are potential employers with positions to fill. Often providing little or no reason to suspect any shady happenings, applicants […] Continue Reading >

Super Bowl 48 and Social Engineering

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Social engineers have now exploited the Super Bowl’s defense for the second year in a row. Matthew Mills, a conspiracy theorist and independent journalist, rushed the podium Sunday night during the Super Bowl XLVIII MVP speech and spoke into the microphone before an official shooed him away. Mills claims he flashed fake credentials at several security guards on his way in without being detained. Acting confidently and as if he was pressed for time, Mills obviously succeeded in fooling everyone. Continue Reading >

Scarcity and The Social Engineer

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To understand how scarcity works for the social engineer, lets first look the concept in social psychology.  It is described as people’s tendency to place a higher value on resources that are not in great supply. Marketing often tries to exploit this phenomena by promoting the idea of scarcity in their sales and specials and a good example of this ploy’s success is the frenzy that is Black Friday. 141 million people shopped on Black Friday in 2013­-the U.S. population is roughly 315 million. Continue Reading >

Fear Feeds The Scammers

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Phobias are irrational fears experienced by some people when they are exposed to certain situations or objects. Unlike mental health experts, scammers want you to become numb so they can take advantage of you easier. Mental Health Professionals Mental health professionals sometimes employ the method of systematic desensitization, where a person is exposed to their fears until the fear reaction is diminished.  The theory behind this treatment is that by consistently exposing a client to the source of their anxiety in a controlled and therapeutic environment the fear response will weaken over time allowing one to relax and react without anxiety. This therapeutic […] Continue Reading >