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Social Engineering: The Art of Human Hacking

ISBN: 978-1-118-02971-8
416 pages
November 2010
Social Engineering: The Art of Human Hacking (1118029712) cover image
The first book to reveal and dissect the technical aspect of many social engineering maneuvers

From elicitation, pretexting, influence and manipulation all aspects of social engineering are picked apart, discussed and explained by using real world examples, personal experience and the science behind them to unraveled the mystery in social engineering.

Kevin Mitnick—one of the most famous social engineers in the world—popularized the term “social engineering.” He explained that it is much easier to trick someone into revealing a password for a system than to exert the effort of hacking into the system. Mitnick claims that this social engineering tactic was the single-most effective method in his arsenal. This indispensable book examines a variety of maneuvers that are aimed at deceiving unsuspecting victims, while it also addresses ways to prevent social engineering threats.

  • Examines social engineering, the science of influencing a target to perform a desired task or divulge information
  • Arms you with invaluable information about the many methods of trickery that hackers use in order to gather information with the intent of executing identity theft, fraud, or gaining computer system access
  • Reveals vital steps for preventing social engineering threats

Social Engineering: The Art of Human Hacking does its part to prepare you against nefarious hackers—now you can do your part by putting to good use the critical information within its pages.

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Foreword xiii

Preface and Acknowledgments xvii

1 A Look into the World of Social Engineering 1

Why This Book Is So Valuable 3

Overview of Social Engineering 9

Summary 21

2 Information Gathering 23

Gathering Information 26

Sources for Information Gathering 33

Communication Modeling 43

The Power of Communication Models 53

3 Elicitation 55

What Is Elicitation? 56

The Goals of Elicitation 58

Mastering Elicitation 74

Summary 76

4 Pretexting: How to Become Anyone 77

What Is Pretexting? 78

The Principles and Planning Stages of Pretexting 79

Successful Pretexting 91

Summary 99

5 Mind Tricks: Psychological Principles Used in Social Engineering 101

Modes of Thinking 103

Microexpressions 109

Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) 136

Interview and Interrogation 143

Building Instant Rapport 162

The Human Buffer Overflow 172

Summary 178

6 Influence: The Power of Persuasion 181

The Five Fundamentals of Influence and Persuasion 182

Influence Tactics 187

Altering Reality: Framing 215

Manipulation: Controlling Your Target 233

Manipulation in Social Engineering 248

Summary 256

7 The Tools of the Social Engineer 259

Physical Tools 260

Online Information-Gathering Tools 279

Summary 297

8 Case Studies: Dissecting the Social Engineer 299

Mitnick Case Study 1: Hacking the DMV 300

Mitnick Case Study 2: Hacking the Social Security Administration 306

Hadnagy Case Study 1: The Overconfident CEO 310

Hadnagy Case Study 2: The Theme Park Scandal 317

Top-Secret Case Study 1: Mission Not Impossible 322

Top-Secret Case Study 2: Social Engineering a Hacker 329

Why Case Studies Are Important 337

Summary 338

9 Prevention and Mitigation 339

Learning to Identify Social Engineering Attacks 340

Creating a Personal Security Awareness Culture 341

Being Aware of the Value of the Information You Are Being Asked For 344

Keeping Software Updated 347

Developing Scripts 348

Learning from Social Engineering Audits 348

Concluding Remarks 354

Summary 361

Index 363

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Christopher Hadnagy is the lead developer of www.social-engineer.org, the world's first social engineering framework. In more than 14 years of security and IT activity, he has partnered with the team at www.backtrack-linux.org and worked on a wide variety of security projects. He also serves as trainer and lead social engineer for Offensive Security's penetration testing team.
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