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3/17/2015
04:00 PM
Sara Peters
Sara Peters
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The 7 Best Social Engineering Attacks Ever

Seven reminders of why technology alone isn't enough to keep you secure.
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Trojan Horse

The classic example comes all the way from ancient Greece, during the mythological Trojan War (possibly, but probably not based on actual historical events). After an exhausting, unsuccessful 10-year siege of Troy, the Greek army appears to give up. They pack their things, set sail, and leave the Trojans an enormous wooden statue of a noble horse -- an impressive gift to say 'We lose. You win. Good game.'

The Trojans wheel the horse into the gates, congratulate themselves, eat, drink, and be merry themselves into a sound sleep. Little did they know that hidden inside the horse was a small force of Greek soldiers. The soldiers crept out of their equine hideaway during the night, opened the city gates, and let in the rest of the Greek army, which had quietly returned under dark of night while the Trojans were carousing. The Greeks entirely destroyed the city of Troy, and the Trojans who survived had to live with the knowledge that, after their security measures held strong for 10 years, they'd allowed their own undoing by foolishly inviting their destroyers to come right in. 

Mythical or not, if the Trojan Horse weren't such a genius example of a social engineering attack, we'd never have named an entire class of malware after it.

(Image: Mykonos vase (Archaeological Museum of Mykonos, Inv. 2240). Decorated pithos found at Mykonos, Greece depicting one of the earliest known renditions of the Trojan Horse.)

Trojan Horse

The classic example comes all the way from ancient Greece, during the mythological Trojan War (possibly, but probably not based on actual historical events). After an exhausting, unsuccessful 10-year siege of Troy, the Greek army appears to give up. They pack their things, set sail, and leave the Trojans an enormous wooden statue of a noble horse -- an impressive gift to say "We lose. You win. Good game."

The Trojans wheel the horse into the gates, congratulate themselves, eat, drink, and be merry themselves into a sound sleep. Little did they know that hidden inside the horse was a small force of Greek soldiers. The soldiers crept out of their equine hideaway during the night, opened the city gates, and let in the rest of the Greek army, which had quietly returned under dark of night while the Trojans were carousing. The Greeks entirely destroyed the city of Troy, and the Trojans who survived had to live with the knowledge that, after their security measures held strong for 10 years, they'd allowed their own undoing by foolishly inviting their destroyers to come right in.

Mythical or not, if the Trojan Horse weren't such a genius example of a social engineering attack, we'd never have named an entire class of malware after it.

(Image: Mykonos vase (Archaeological Museum of Mykonos, Inv. 2240). Decorated pithos found at Mykonos, Greece depicting one of the earliest known renditions of the Trojan Horse.)

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Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Ninja
3/18/2015 | 6:45:32 PM
name required
Can we all agree to ignore any email that isn't addressed by name?
xmarksthespot
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xmarksthespot,
User Rank: Strategist
3/19/2015 | 4:24:22 AM
Good examples
Great article!  Periodic User awareness training to reduce social engineering is of paramount importance.  Some phishing emails are so good that high trained security people can fall for them.  The examples in the article effectively demonstrate the issue.


The rule I use for my own emails is not click links in emails, including unsubscribe, unless the email is expected, such as one as confirmation during new account setup. Of course, never click on attachments either unless they are expected.  I have within Spyshelter (anti-keylogger) where I can save an attachment, right click the file and on the pop-up menu click 'Spyshelter-> Check it on VirusTotal'; it uploads to virustotal.com .   It's then scanned by over 50 antivirus software products. 

I think this rule is probably the most important security measure I use for computers at my home.
delllphi
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delllphi,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/24/2015 | 7:21:23 AM
Confidence Man
The name of the "confidence man" was "William Thompson" and not "Samuel Williams". The article "Arrest of the Confidence Man" (New-York Herald, July 8, 1849) can be found online.
mithoon
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100%
mithoon,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/28/2015 | 2:37:41 AM
Re: name required
great post
AnonymousC493
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AnonymousC493,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/9/2015 | 9:41:21 AM
Social Engineering examples
Here's another example:

https://engineering.social/2015/05/02/sinkholing-script-kiddies/

It's not one of 'the best social engineering attacks' ever, but shows that anyone can be a target.

 

 
MichaelH91401
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MichaelH91401,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/1/2015 | 3:18:11 PM
Re: name required
The post refers to "Ferrara" repeatedly, but never describes who he is or what he does. 
Sincee
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Sincee,
User Rank: Strategist
10/2/2015 | 4:56:47 AM
thank's for post
system security in any country is the future !
baller188
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baller188,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/14/2017 | 6:00:19 AM
Forex security and vulnerabilities
Great post as always. Technology advances every day, new vulnerabilities arise all the time. Security is everyones main priority and rightly so. For any site owner nowadays you need a dedicated security team to make sure you and your customers are safe. Its a scary world out there.
nickhudson
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50%
nickhudson,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/5/2017 | 8:03:33 AM
What is Social Engineering really?
I have been reading about the social engineering thing lately, I am getting lots of phishing emails lately and I wonder where I went wrong. May be someone has got a hold of my email. I have become more aware now and I literally check every link before even opening it.
Megan is Always Wright
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50%
Megan is Always Wright,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/9/2017 | 11:15:58 AM
Re: What is Social Engineering really?
Social engineering is basically a technique that has long been used by humans even before the birth of the Internet. By using these techniques, the evildoers among us are able to win our trust, or more like fool us into sharing stuff that we shouldn't.

I also didnt understand what it was until i read this article (https://www.purevpn.com/blog/social-engineering-attacks/) which explained what it was and how to protect against it
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