Valentine’s Day and social engineering

Kevin Mitnick, the infamous ex-hacker, visited Moscow yesterday where he spoke about social engineering at an information security forum. It would be difficult to imagine a more appropriate speaker, since Kevin was the first to introduce the term social engineering to computer security. In fact he was the first cyber criminal to use social engineering techniques for profit. Today, Kevin is using his expertise to protect users from other ‘social engineers’.

The presentation itself was fascinating, but the real reason I wanted to tell you about it is :

Valentine’s Day. A day to tell the people you love exactly how much you love them. However, it is also a day that virus writers love, too. For the past few years we have witnessed mass mailings of Trojans and worms masquerading as valentines: a perfect example of social engineering. Most people are eager and willing to believe that a ‘secret admirer’ has sent them a card and open the attachment or click on the link.

Just think about it. Think about how long social engineering techniques have been used to dupe gullible people – again and again. Make a resolution: to treat electronic valentines with due suspicion this year. Finally.

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