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Big Names Fail Social Engineering Security Test

DefCon 'capture the flag' contest succeeded in taking data from employees at 14 major companies, including Apple, Oracle, and United Airlines.
Turns out employees in a retail setting are less likely to get duped by a social engineer than people who work in a call center or customer support site.

That's just one of the main takeaways from the postmortem report published Monday about the second annual live Social Engineering Capture The Flag contest that was held in August at DefCon. The contest targeted multiple companies in five different industries--retail, airlines, food service, technology, and mobile services--to determine how susceptible they are to a social engineer schmoozing potentially sensitive information out them.

This year's contestants tried to squeeze specific information, or "flags," out of Apple, AT&T, Conagra Foods, Dell, Delta Airlines, IBM, McDonalds, Oracle, Symantec, Sysco Foods, Target, United Airlines, Verizon, and Walmart during the two-day contest.

Prior to the live contest, contestants had two weeks to gather intel on the companies via passive information-gathering methods, such as Google searches, social networks, and Web research. That information was compiled in a dossier they turned in prior to the conference and was part of their overall scores.

It wasn't until DefCon that contestants got to make direct contact with their target companies; they dialed up the targets from a soundproof booth at DefCon, with an audience and organizers Hadnagy and James O'Gorman watching and listening. They had just a 25-minute timeslot to capture as many flags as possible. There were more than 60 flags, and they ranged from the names of the food service providers in the company cafeterias to their antivirus programs and browser versions. All of the companies (unknowingly) surrendered flags, and only three employees resisted giving up information to the caller.

AT&T fared better than Verizon in the contest, but not because AT&T was necessarily more secure.

Read the rest of this article on Dark Reading.
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