Psychological Reconnaissance

March 2, 2016 | Views: 3288

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As most of you know, social engineering can be exceptionally powerful. In all cases, a social engineering assault is only as good as the engineer. Every fruitful hack – technical or socially engineered – must have been supported by reconnaissance.


This kind of reconnaissance we’re discussing here isn’t recon of a machine, but of the victim. Recon for social engineering is possible by thorough watching the user’s activity – seeing what sites they visit, and if they exhibit certain kinds of behavior.


Doing Reconnaissance

For recon, we basically need to watch the user and search for signs of certain personality traits. For instance, if we’re viewing a victim’s web activity through a MitM, we can gain a better understanding of the way that user thinks.


Evaluating Behavior

By understanding the user’s behavior, we can build a better attack. For instance, if a user shows erratic conduct, we’ll have to build something more eye catching to attract their attention. The best thing to look for while assessing behavior is patterns. In the event that you manage to identify enough patterns, you can get a good idea of a person’s traits.


Abusing Vulnerabilities

People are vulnerable, much like the Systems ,Computers and Servers they use. If you can identify a person’s traits, you can build an attack optimized for them. By doing careful observation and assessing the victim’s conduct, you can discover vulnerabilities in the individual.


In summary, social engineering can be taken to the next level with the addition of some simple psychology. Learning more types of behaviors will increase your arsenal of exploits.

This is simply a prologue to a much bigger subject; there are many different behavior types that have an array of ways to exploit them.


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  1. Thank you for the article, really interesting.

  2. Nice article, I really like it.

  3. Thanks for the article very interesting.

  4. Great article and very true; having worked in Corrections I can attest to the fact that criminals and other sociopaths are nothing if not patient. Being locked up for hours on end, they have nothing better to do with their time than watch the staff, learn our habits, and truth be told, look for our weaknesses. They are adept at recognizing and exploiting vulnerability. The people who carry out cyber crimes are in my opinion no different. That’s why I am glad for this site; hopefully with widespread education and training society can at least slow the progress of these individuals.

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