Social Engineering: The dangers of positive thinking

The assumption that everything's okay is a risky one

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CSO Online recently spoke to a person working in the security field with a rather unique job. He's paid to break into places, such as banks and research facilities (both private and government), in order to test their resistance to social engineering and physical attacks.

Rarely is he caught, but even when he is it doesn't matter, and the reason for his success is the same in each case – human nature.

Caught on film:

When the surveillance video starts playing, the images show a typical day at a bank somewhere in the world. Business is steady, but the lobby isn't overly packed with customers, so a single teller is working the window.

Soon, the bank supervisor walks to the left in greeting. At thirty-five seconds in, Jayson Street, the Infosec Ranger at Pwnie Express, a company that specializes in creating unique hacking tools for professionals, makes his first appearance.

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Dressed in jeans, a DEF CON jacket and red ThunderCat high-tops, Street is taking a casual stroll behind the counter. Not only is he in the bank, he's in an area that's supposed to be secure and limited only to authorized personnel. Given the location of the bank, somewhere outside of the United States, Street is clearly not a local or a customer.

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He's there to perform a penetration test; in this case he's testing both physical security as well as network security, but the staff don't know this - all he's told the supervisor is that he's there to check USB rights on the computer. A few seconds later, she is on screen pointing to a computer that's currently being used by an employee.

Street nods his head in agreement, and moments later he's granted physical access to the system. He's plugging a USB drive into the computer's front port and running software, which requires the employee to stop working with a customer and relinquish his seat for a moment.

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