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How Easy Is It?

As an inside penetration team leader, I learned every exploit I could to conduct a successful inside penetration test. It was during those years that I gained most of my social engineering experience. These skills helped me to eventually hang up my dumpster diving penetration team jersey and retire from the Tiger Team world undefeated. Although I had several close calls, I was never stopped or reported to security as a possible burglar or corporate espionage agent, even though that’s the role I was playing—effectively, it’s what I was.

In 1988 I was part of an internal security team for a large corporation. On several occasions, I had the opportunity to hear conversations that went on when a “black hat” (or malicious) group targeted a victim by calling on the phone. The black hats were using social engineering skills to gain access to proprietary information, including passwords. What I heard one of the veteran black hats say to a trainee remains true today: “Social engineering is the easiest way to break into a system.”


  

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