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9/3/2014
07:15 PM
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Home Depot, Other Retailers Get Social Engineered

Famed annual contest reveals how many retailers lack sufficient defenses against social engineering.

(Source: Social-Engineer.org)
(Source: Social-Engineer.org)

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Sara Peters
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Sara Peters,
User Rank: Author
9/5/2014 | 11:47:32 AM
first line of defense...
At RSA I spoke to some people at Akamai who do security awareness for their insiders, and they did something that I found kind of awesome and hilarious. They gave out an award for whoever was doing the best job at securing the organization -- which was often all about preventing social engineering. Whoever won that month had the honor of having a stuffed penguin on their desk until someone else was awarded it. 

And the person who kept winning it was not somebody in IT or some executive. 
Marilyn Cohodas
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Marilyn Cohodas,
User Rank: Strategist
9/4/2014 | 4:06:03 PM
fascinating thread
Wow! This a great thread. Thanks @SteveMorlan for sharing your experience on the winning team at Social Engineering Capture the Flag (SECTF) competition at DEF CON. Love the details. It really brings the competition to life..
Kelly Jackson Higgins
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Kelly Jackson Higgins,
User Rank: Strategist
9/4/2014 | 3:55:53 PM
Re: Ease of Access
It's great that you can take back to your company the firsthand experience of what can happen to employees in social engineering situations.
SteveMorlan
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SteveMorlan,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/4/2014 | 3:54:28 PM
Re: Ease of Access
Unfortunately, we likely won't. Chris has not released how the competition will be run next year. Moreover, this year teams were assigned randomly so that experienced individuals were placed with new individuals. 

If I am allowed, I would love to participate again. I found the entire experience rewarding and enjoyable. Moreover, it gives me examples of attacks that could be leveraged against the company I currently work for; allowing us to make changes to our training to incorporate new concerns. 
Kelly Jackson Higgins
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Kelly Jackson Higgins,
User Rank: Strategist
9/4/2014 | 3:43:48 PM
Re: Ease of Access
Really, really interesting. It sounds like you two were a good balance of personalities and perspectives.

So--are you thinking you'll form a team for next year?
Kelly Jackson Higgins
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Kelly Jackson Higgins,
User Rank: Strategist
9/4/2014 | 3:43:48 PM
Re: Ease of Access
Really, really interesting. It sounds like you two were a good balance of personalities and perspectives.

So--are you thinking you'll form a team for next year?
SteveMorlan
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SteveMorlan,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/4/2014 | 3:36:11 PM
Re: Ease of Access
Haha. So, it was very surprising. I have never competed before or used Social Engineering in any professional environment. I had roughly one hour to prepare for the contest before joining Stephanie in the booth, so I didn't. She wrote a script ahead of time, which I glanced at, but none of it flowed nicely with my personality. Consequently, I chose to wing it. She also provided me with a list of flags, which is what I went off of. 

In the booth she initiated the call by grabbing non-tehnical information and then transferring to me, a member of the security team, which was brilliant on her part because it played to stereotypical gender roles. My experience with tech support, sales, and system administration took over from there. 

I was very nervous before sitting down in the booth, but the laughter and cheers from the crowd made it much easier. 
Kelly Jackson Higgins
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Kelly Jackson Higgins,
User Rank: Strategist
9/4/2014 | 3:25:47 PM
Re: Ease of Access
Thank you for sharing this insight, Steve. So you were the substitute team member/volunteer for the audience when the other Schmooze Operator member got sick? How hard was that--jumping in?
SteveMorlan
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SteveMorlan,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/4/2014 | 3:18:00 PM
Re: Ease of Access
Kelly,

From what I viewed and experienced, antivirus was one of the hardest to acquire, simply because the information was hidden from the employee, not because the employee was not willing. I watched multiple teams acquire phone system info, os version and service pack, computer make and model, vendor information, etc. Once the employee starts giving information, your trust with them builds and they happily hand over information. 

One of the most entertaining flags was asking the individual to navigate to a website. All the teams used the seorg.org address. In many cases, the individual actually went to the site more than once on the same call. What is so funny about this, is that the site says "What is Social Engineering?" in bold font on the top of the page. 

Most importantly, it is not the employees' fault. The majority of these individuals have simply not been trained to handle social engineering. The folks that run the contest do an excellent job of reporting their findings and protecting the individuals involved. I hope that more companies implement training for these types of attacks. 
Kelly Jackson Higgins
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Kelly Jackson Higgins,
User Rank: Strategist
9/4/2014 | 2:58:54 PM
Re: Ease of Access
Hi Steve--thanks for your note. I'm curious -- from your perspective, which flags were the most difficult to capture? 
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