Ripping People Off [and other fun past times]

August 7, 2018

I started my morning off right. I'm teaching people how to lie, cheat, and otherwise trick others into giving them what they want. Ahhh. The satisfaction that comes from giving back to humanity.


Oh, ha. Maybe I should mention this is a writer's workshop on social engineering. You know, the stuff that pickpockets, time share salespeople, and phishers use. The stuff that makes you want to hand them your keys, wallet and passwords without hesitation. You'll even want to buy them a coffee while doing it. Fascinating stuff.


If this piques your interest at all, may I heartily recommend the series Brain Games, anything about the Gentleman Thief, and the book by Daniel Kahneman Thinking, Fast and Slow?


I think Apollo Robbin's quote sums it up best: "It's not what you look at that's what you see."


If you have eight minutes and forty-seven seconds, check this out. The master at work...


 Attention. It's precious, and limited, stuff. It's what dictates what we actually perceive and what we lead others to perceive. 


Why do I bring this up at all? Why am I teaching a workshop on it? Who cares?


We all should. By learning the beats of deception, we can spot shysters, protect ourselves, and be more cognizant of how we choose to invest our precious attention. We might even come a little closer to understanding these wonderful brains in our heads. 


Here are some super basics of social engineering...


It's all about exploiting the human inclination or desire to trust. A social engineering attack will almost always come with a story, an urgent request for help, and often some pretense of credibility (clothing, a badge, etc.). 

Incredible, isn't it? Within two minutes and a recording of a baby's cry, this woman hijacks the guy's cell phone account. 


So how do we protect ourselves? How can we take precautions against social engineering attacks? Here are a few tips from the pros at Webroot, Inc.:


  • Slow down. If scammers can rush you, they know you'll react without thinking the situation through clearly. If they can keep you in knee-jerk mode, odds are good they'll succeed.

  • Exercise a healthy dose of skepticism. If it seems rushed, off, or pushy, step back and take time to question. Don't give in to pressure to trust an "innocent" story or face, be intimidated by trappings of authority, or tricked into believing those credentials that were flashed in front of your face.

  • Guard your info. You'd be surprised at how the little pieces of private information gleaned here and there can be positioned together to create a believable situation...all just to achieve a final password or access point.

  • Educate yourself. Honestly, it's kinda fun learning about the whole world of hackers and con artists. I have tons of in depth articles, fun videos, and favorite books. If you'd like to learn more about the under belly of the social skills world, drop a comment below or email me. 


I wish you a day filled with new (good) challenges, time with your loved ones, and a healthy dose of silliness,




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