Social Engineering Fueled by Social Networks is a Potent Threat

By Lawrence Walsh  |  Print this article Print


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Security pros still worry about protecting what's left of the digial perimeter. Social networks like Facebook and Twitter, however, are making it far easier to target--or spear phish--information from hapless users. In other words, social engineer remains a potent threat.

Infamous hacker Kevin Mitnick earned his reputation—and jail time—not for his technical prowess, but rather his ability to find soft targets in his target organizations and silver tongue in plying them for information that allowed him to access systems.

The technique is known as "social engineering." Nothing new to report here, and it’s a bit passé to even talk about social engineering as a threat given the proliferation of malware, spam, mass phishing, botnets and advanced hacking techniques. However, Aaron Higbee, a managing partner and co-founder of the Intrepidus Group, says social engineering is alive and well, and probably remains the most effective hacking technique.

"Attackers are bypassing all the layers of security and going after the soft targets, the humans, with targeted spear-phishing and it’s very effective," Higbee says.

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Lawrence Walsh Lawrence Walsh is editor of Baseline magazine, overseeing print and online editorial content and the strategic direction of the publication. He is also a regular columnist for Ziff Davis Enterprise's Channel Insider. Mr. Walsh is well versed in IT technology and issues, and he is an expert in IT security technologies and policies, managed services, business intelligence software and IT reseller channels. An award-winning journalist, Mr. Walsh has served as editor of CMP Technology's VARBusiness and GovernmentVAR magazines, and TechTarget's Information Security magazine. He has written hundreds of articles, analyses and commentaries on the development of reseller businesses, the IT marketplace and managed services, as well as information security policy, strategy and technology. Prior to his magazine career, Mr. Walsh was a newspaper editor and reporter, having held editorial positions at the Boston Globe, MetroWest Daily News, Brockton Enterprise and Community Newspaper Company.

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