Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Perimeter

5/26/2010
04:14 PM
50%
50%

Security's Top 4 Social Engineers Of All Time

My team here at Secure Network was recently discussing who we considered the best social engineers of all time. My colleagues and I each made a list and defended our candidates based on the creativity, innovation, and the public impact they had made. Here are our final top four social engineers from number four to number one, and why we chose them.

My team here at Secure Network was recently discussing who we considered the best social engineers of all time. My colleagues and I each made a list and defended our candidates based on the creativity, innovation, and the public impact they had made. Here are our final top four social engineers from number four to number one, and why we chose them.#4. Frank William Abagnale, Jr.

During the 1960s and without the assistance of the Internet or other digital conveniences, Frank Abagnale made his mark as a social engineer. He portrayed himself as a variety of imposters and used techniques that would build confidence with his victims. Combining those talents with his forgery skills, he pulled off some of the most deceptive scams of all time - everything from impersonating a chief resident pediatrician at a hospital for almost a year to posing as an airline pilot to fly for free. While Abagnale used his knowledge and expertise for purposes of deceit, he later served his time and became a security consultant helping the FBI thwart similar crimes. His life was also depicted in the Stephan Spielberg film "Catch Me If You Can," with Tom Hanks, Christopher Walken, and Leonardo DeCaprio. His special traits and the fact that he inspired a feature film led us to rank him the fourth best social engineer of all time.

#3. Chris Nickerson, CEO of Lares Consulting

Chris Nickerson is a modern day pioneer in the world of information security and social engineering and is a force to be reckoned with. He is a master at leveraging the latest technologies, has an extensive knowledge of physical security, and the guts to attempt projects most security experts would hesitate to do. Some of Chris's most notable experiences were seen on a TruTV reality show in which he demonstrated the weaknesses of a high-profile jewelry store and a sports car dealership. Using social engineering techniques and leveraging technology vulnerabilities, he gained entry into each location, compromising sensitive information, and accessing pricey merchandise, including an exotic sports car. Unlike Abagnale, Nickerson is a legit professional, hired by firms to conduct social engineering exploits in order to measure their risk and security weaknesses.

#2. Kevin David Mitnick

Kevin David Mitnick is a well known name in the world of security. His past includes a variety of social engineering exploits and hacks that led to the security breach of numerous Fortune 500 companies, as well as federal and state agencies. His expertise dates as far back as 1975, learning the vulnerabilities of everything from punch card systems to telecommunications. Mitnick's actions ultimately landed him in jail, and he served prison time for crimes that tested new laws relating to digital theft. But his social engineering techniques and technical abilities broke new ground in launching the information security industry. He has since reinvented himself and founded Mitnick Security Consulting, LLC, co-authored two books, and is bringing information security awareness to the world. Mitnick's actions, as controversial as they may appear, earn him the second place slot on our list.

#1.

Our number one choice for best social engineer was unanimous among the group. At first glance, the choice may seem rather odd, but this distinction goes to a man who achieved the following: he crafted a web portal and lured millions of people into his pocket. He established confidence and trust with his users, facilitating them to divulge the secrets of their lives by relinquishing personal information, habits, behaviors, activities, and media. He collected all of this information and then sold it legally for millions of dollars, unlike others who served harsh prison terms. Incredibly, he accomplished this in a time when identity theft has become household issue and guarding your personal information has become a way of life.

In case you have you not guessed our number one social engineer, it's Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook. Well done, Mark, 400 million people fell for your ruse.

Steve Stasiukonis is vice president and founder of Secure Network Technologies Inc. Steve serves as president of Secure Network, focusing on penetration testing, information security risk assessments, incident response and digital investigations. Steve has worked in the field of information security since 1997. As a part of that experience, Steve is an ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Mobile Banking Malware Up 50% in First Half of 2019
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  1/17/2020
Exploits Released for As-Yet Unpatched Critical Citrix Flaw
Jai Vijayan, Contributing Writer,  1/13/2020
Microsoft to Officially End Support for Windows 7, Server 2008
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  1/13/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
Current Issue
The Year in Security: 2019
This Tech Digest provides a wrap up and overview of the year's top cybersecurity news stories. It was a year of new twists on old threats, with fears of another WannaCry-type worm and of a possible botnet army of Wi-Fi routers. But 2019 also underscored the risk of firmware and trusted security tools harboring dangerous holes that cybercriminals and nation-state hackers could readily abuse. Read more.
Flash Poll
[Just Released] How Enterprises are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
[Just Released] How Enterprises are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
Organizations have invested in a sweeping array of security technologies to address challenges associated with the growing number of cybersecurity attacks. However, the complexity involved in managing these technologies is emerging as a major problem. Read this report to find out what your peers biggest security challenges are and the technologies they are using to address them.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-7227
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-18
Westermo MRD-315 1.7.3 and 1.7.4 devices have an information disclosure vulnerability that allows an authenticated remote attacker to retrieve the source code of different functions of the web application via requests that lack certain mandatory parameters. This affects ifaces-diag.asp, system.asp, ...
CVE-2019-15625
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-18
A memory usage vulnerability exists in Trend Micro Password Manager 3.8 that could allow an attacker with access and permissions to the victim's memory processes to extract sensitive information.
CVE-2019-19696
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-18
A RootCA vulnerability found in Trend Micro Password Manager for Windows and macOS exists where the localhost.key of RootCA.crt might be improperly accessed by an unauthorized party and could be used to create malicious self-signed SSL certificates, allowing an attacker to misdirect a user to phishi...
CVE-2019-19697
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-18
An arbitrary code execution vulnerability exists in the Trend Micro Security 2019 (v15) consumer family of products which could allow an attacker to gain elevated privileges and tamper with protected services by disabling or otherwise preventing them to start. An attacker must already have administr...
CVE-2019-20357
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-18
A Persistent Arbitrary Code Execution vulnerability exists in the Trend Micro Security 2020 (v160 and 2019 (v15) consumer familiy of products which could potentially allow an attacker the ability to create a malicious program to escalate privileges and attain persistence on a vulnerable system.