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Nowadays, social engineering is considered to be one of the most hot-burning issues. It is known as a way of manipulation and getting information illegally. Usually, it is a kind of fraud, trickery, psychological manipulation, or just deception, which becomes the major instrument for the acquirement of confidential information or getting the computer access in order to find it and naturally obeying the human right on privacy, security, or author’s rights. In most cases, such attacks are organized by means of the Internet or various institutions.
In accordance with Adam Podgórecki. Jon Alexander, and Rob Shields social engineering is a challenging issue of the twentieth century. They define social engineering as “arranging and challenging environmental and social forces to create a high probability that effective social will occur” (1996, p. 1); also they identify the bulk of social engineering. The scientists (1996, p. 3) admit that social engineers persuade people to follow them as they do their best to improve the situation in the country. They promise to guarantee a social welfare and prosperity of people. In order to achieve their goals, social engineers establish institutions, which transform the consciousness of people and society in the whole. Admitting the important role of social engineers in forming the society of the twentieth century, Adam Podgórecki, Jon Alexander, and Rob Shields provide the examples of Stalin, Lenin, and Hitler as the most outstanding social engineers.
Christopher Hadnag’s insight comprises not only global aspects of social engineering, but also micro ones. He denotes that social engineering is present in everyday life (2010, p. 15) as therapists, psychologists, and lawyers use social engineering to get the information they need. Even children are considered to use this method in order to make parents allow doing something they want to. The scientist highlights that social engineering can have a positive impact as well. For example, a person is not fit enough, but his parents or friends become social engineers for this person and persuade him attend salsa classes. The health of this person is becoming better and better, he enjoys dances, but the person would never start attending these classes without the social engineering of friends or parents.
Hadnag divides all social engineers into the following groups:
a)Hackers: Because of the improvement ofsoftware, getting access to computers is becoming more and more complicated. This is the reason why hackers need to turn to manipulation of other people in order to achieve their goal. Usually, they use hardware and social engineering skills for organizing an attack.
b)PTs: These people have the similar functions as hackers, but they do not use the information they have got for personal use and they are not inclined to harm their victims.
c)Spies: The way of life of these people is social engineering. Usually, they are taught the techniques of social engineering. They need to do their best in making other people trust them. They deceive others as they make people believe that they are someone they are not.
d)Identity thieves: These people are criminals who use person’s private information in order to commit a crime. This information can be name, date of birth, address, or bank account number.
e)Disgruntled employees: These social engineers enter into negatory relationships with the employer. The major method of this social engineering is not to show the negative attitude of the disgruntled employee in order to make the opportunity of committing such crimes as theft or vandalism more possible.
f)Scam artists: These social engineers rely on other person’s greed. They confirm that a person can reap some benefits without making considerable efforts.
g)Executive recruiters: In order to please both a job poster and a job seeker, any executive recruiter has to master numerous techniques of social engineering with the purpose of getting information concerning the motivation of each applicant.
h)Salespeople: An abundance of psychological principles helps salesmen to get necessary information about wishes and preferences of each customer. By means of social engineering, they persuade a person make a right choice.
i)Governments: Social engineering helps a lot of politicians to control the situation in the country or to give an added gloss to it.
j)Doctors, psychologists, and lawyers: All necessary techniques of proper interrogation and interview tactics are used by these personalities in order to either treat a person or help them in the court.
According to Ian Mann (2010, pp. 16-20), there are several methods of protection. Security is one of the major options in case of an attack of a social engineer. First of all, it is necessary to understand human vulnerability in their information security. Anyone should identify any possible risks by means of analysis. The next step is to define the way of sharing information as exploitation of it is always possible. In order to prevent it, it is more than necessary to answer two questions “Whom do I provide this information?” and “How do I guarantee the security of it?” Then, a person should develop their own countermeasures and to improve their information systems efficiently. If a person has doubts about some people and their honesty, it is better to prevent them from deceiving. And finally, understanding human weaknesses, some psychological peculiarities, and, of course, delving into the ways of persuasion makes the risks of social engineering become lower.
To top it up, it is necessary to admit that the concept of social engineering needs investigation. Social engineering has already taken place even in our everyday life, but understanding this problem, kinds of social engineers, and ways of prevention improves human security considerably. Only in case of taking into account all aspects of social engineering, people avoid any chance of being deceived.