Unmasking the Social Engineer: The Human Element of Security

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9781118608579: Unmasking the Social Engineer: The Human Element of Security

Learn to identify the social engineer by non-verbal behavior

Unmasking the Social Engineer: The Human Element of Security focuses on combining the science of understanding non-verbal communications with the knowledge of how social engineers, scam artists and con men use these skills to build feelings of trust and rapport in their targets. The author helps readers understand how to identify and detect social engineers and scammers by analyzing their non-verbal behavior. Unmasking the Social Engineer shows how attacks work, explains nonverbal communications, and demonstrates with visuals the connection of non-verbal behavior to social engineering and scamming.

  • Clearly combines both the practical and technical aspects of social engineering security
  • Reveals the various dirty tricks that scammers use
  • Pinpoints what to look for on the nonverbal side to detect the social engineer

Sharing proven scientific methodology for reading, understanding, and deciphering non-verbal communications, Unmasking the Social Engineer arms readers with the knowledge needed to help protect their organizations.

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Christopher Hadnagy

The Science of Nonverbal Communication with the Art of Social Engineering

Most researchers agree that a large portion of what we communicate is done not through what we say, but how it is said. A combination of our facial expressions, body language, vocal tone and other indicators can tell the receiver our intent, our emotional content and the meaning behind the message. Our brains take in these queues and then decide how we will react to them. We, without thought, decide to trust someone based on their posture, smile and body language. We feel uneasy or distant from someone else for the lack of smile or aggressive body language. Understanding this not only has many implications to communication, but it has some serious security implications, too.

What is Nonverbal Communication?

  • Kinesics: This term essentially describes body language and how our bodies can give away the emotion we are feeling
  • Proxemics: This term concerns our use of the space around us and how it can indicate comfort or discomfort
  • Touch: Our sense of touch goes a long way in communicating to our brains what's going on around us, and, in the same way, can communicate emotions to others
  • Eye Contact: You may have heard the phrase, "The eyes are the windows to the soul," and it's true, the eyes can give clues away about our emotional state
  • Olfactics: This is the study of smell and how our bodies associate certain smells with emotions and feelings
  • Adornment: Clothing, jewelry, make up, and even hair can set us apart and tells people about us without words
  • Facial Expressions: The human face holds a lot of information about what we are feeling; it can tell a whole story without words

Which expression is happy and which is full of fear? It's all in the eyes.

Implications to Communication - and Security

Some studies suggest more than 50 percent of communication is nonverbal. Truthfully, though, it's hard to attach a real percentage to this phenomenon because it changes according to the type of communication, its purpose, toward whom it is directed, and many other factors. Regardless, most researchers agree that if a percentage could be attached to nonverbal communication, it would be quite high.

Researchers like Dr. Ekman and Dr. Paul Zak have found how facial expressions and body language can create a strong bond with other people, developing trust and rapport quickly. While this is important for building relationships and strong bonds, it is also used by the con man and social engineers to gain compliance to actions that you should not take.

Education is the Key

As “Unmasking the Social Engineer” discusses these implications in depth, a question I often get asked is, “If we react automatically, if it is really chemical reactions, then how can we be protected and secure?”

This is an excellent question with a very simple, yet difficult answer – education. If we remain unknowledgeable about the methods that are used or the psychology behind them we can never be aware of when malicious methods are being used against us. It is only when you are aware, educated, and taught to recognize these methods that your “auto pilot” can be corrected to not react with auto-compliance but with caution. The goal is not to create paranoia or doubt in every communication you have with another person, but to take the research from some of the world's greatest minds and apply it to security.

From the Back Cover:

Combining the science of nonverbal communications with the art of social engineering

Social engineers are experts at getting people to do what they want. The step-by-step instructions in this book will put you in a place to get what you want by understanding what people aren’t telling you. Christopher Hadnagy, Dr. Paul Ekman, and Paul Kelly have joined forces to explain how social engineering works and how you can prevent it. Security is more than just defending against people with malicious intent. It’s about using your knowledge of social engineering and “human hacking” to stay in control of every situation.

Learn to instantly identify nonverbal communication

  • Read people’s body language and facial expressions
  • Learn how malicious hackers gain your trust
  • Think like a “human hacker”
  • Understand the security vulnerabilities beyond your IT infrastructure
  • Review real-world case studies with detailed photos of typical non-verbal behaviors of the social engineer
  • Develop the knowledge and skills to neutralize the growing threat from malicious social engineers

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