Social Engineering: The
Human Element
How Does Social Engineering
Work and to What Purpose?
Chuck McGann
A discussion on types of “social engineering” and how it can
be both damaging to your business and to home
[We may touch on the dangers of Social Media if there is
Defining "Social Engineering"
 Social Engineering is defined as the process of
deceiving people into giving away access or confidential
information by establishing a contrived relationship of
 Wikipedia defines it as: "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."[1]
Defining "Social Media"
 Social media is the collective of online communications
channels dedicated to community-based input, interaction,
content-sharing and collaboration. Websites and
applications dedicated to forums, microblogging, social
networking, social bookmarking, social curation, and wikis
are among the different types of social media
Quick Video
 Placeholder for the below video
 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tkgLHoaFeFk&__hssc=&__hstc&
The Human Element of Trust
 Trust is integral to the idea of social influence: it is easier
to influence or persuade someone who is trusting. The
notion of trust is increasingly adopted to predict
acceptance of behaviors by
others, institutions (e.g. government agencies) and
objects such as machines…
Targeted Organizations
By Industry
Real World Example
 Fall of 2012, USPS was targeted by an
external social engineering attack
 Over 150 USPS users opened the
phishing eMail
 80 recipients provided their User ID and
 CIRT issued a requirement to reset all
WebVPN user account passwords
 Lost work hours
Research by Check Point
Software Technologies
 850 IT and Security professionals in North America,
Australia, and New Zealand were surveyed
 48% of large businesses have suffered from socially
engineered attacks at least 25 times
 Resulting in losses of between $25,000 and $100,00
per incident
Social Engineering
 Types of Attacks
 Phishing – Spear/Whale
 Impersonation of Help Desk Agent
 Fake software
 Trojans
 Watering Hole
 Drive by download
 Use of deceptive mass emailing
 Can target specific entities (“Spear phishing and Whale
 Prevention:
 Honeypot email addresses
 Education
 Awareness of network and website changes
 Awareness of links and format of actual address
 Note - http://www.usps.com
Phishing Example
----- Forwarded message ----From: Express Mail Service [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Friday, April 26, 2013 10:13 AM
Subject: Shipping Info
Delivery information,
Your parcel can not be delivered by courier service.
Status:Postal code is not specified.
STATUS OF YOUR ITEM: not delivered
SERVICE: Local Pickup
Print a label and show it at your post office.
An additional information
If the parcel is not received within 30 working days our company will have the right to claim compensation from
you for it is keeping in the amount of $6.10 for each day of keeping of it.
You can find the information about the procedure and conditions of parcels keeping in the nearest office.
Thank you for attention.
DHL Customer.
Impersonation on Help Desk Calls
 Calling the Help Desk pretending to be someone else
 Usually an employee or someone with authority with a
 Prevention:
 Assign pins for calling the Help Desk
 Don’t do anything on someone’s order
 Stick to the scope of the Help Desk
Fake Software
 Fake login screens
 The user is aware of the software but thinks it’s
 Prevention:
 Have a system for making real login screens obvious
(personalized key, image, or phrase)
 Education
 Antivirus (will not be able to detect zero day exploits –
new virus signatures)
 Appears to be useful and legitimate software before
 Performs malicious actions in the background
 Does not require interaction after being run
 Prevention:
 Don‘t run programs on someone else’s computer
 Only open attachments you’re expecting
 Use an up-to-date antivirus program
Security Awareness Testing
 Method, Tools, and Approach
 Email
 Email will contain an URL which would be
redirected to a data collection and metrics web site
 Data Collection and Metrics Web Site
 Redirect user to a webpage which will contain
information for security awareness
What Can You Do?
Keep software and antivirus current
Strong security awareness program
Use “least privilege” for users
Periodic technology assessments
Assign the responsibility to someone
Places for Help
 SANS – Securing the Human
 http://www.sans.org/security-awareness/
 Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center
 http://msisac.cisecurity.org/resources/videos/free-training.cfm
 Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS.Gov)
 http://www.hhs.gov/ocio/securityprivacy/awarenesstraining/awarenesstrai
 Stop Think Connect
 http://www.stopthinkconnect.org/
Weakest Link?
• No matter how strong your:
 Firewalls
 Intrusion Detection Systems
 Cryptography
 Anti-virus software
• "At the end of the day, people are a critical part of the
security process as they can be misled by criminals and
make mistakes that lead to malware infections or
unintentional data loss“ – Oded Gonda (VP of Check
• "The weakest link in the security chain is the human
element" -Kevin Mitnick
(2013, September 11). Trust (Social Sciences). Retrieved: September 13, 2013, from
Schwartz, Mathew J. (2011, September 21). Social Engineering Attacks Cost Companies.
Retrieved: September 13, 2013, from

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