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Social Engineering Audits Using Anonymous Surveys: Conning the Users in Order to Know if They Can Be Conned
University of Skövde, School of Humanities and Informatics.
2005 (English)In: CD-ROM Proceedings of the 4th Security Conference, Las Vegas, USA, 30-31 March 2005, 2005Conference paper, (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

It is important to know the security readiness of any organization in order to strengthen it. One often neglected aspect of security is the human element, which is often attacked by social engineering” techniques. This paper studies to what extent users are aware and susceptible to common social engineering attacks, and if a quantitative approach to enetration testing of social engineering can be used. By employing a quantitative study under the false pretense of studying “micro efficiency”, an organization with above average skilled users was surveyed on three classic social engineering cons. The results indicate that the approach could be useful as a part of, or as a stand alone auditing technique. The human element is not only vulnerable, but vulnerable to the extent that it shadows most other security measures. The author argues for the necessity of education in order to counter the serious threat of social engineering, since it in many cases complies with the principle of adequate protection.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2005.
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:his:diva-1714ISBN: 0-9729562-5-5 OAI: oai:DiVA.org:his-1714DiVA: diva2:31990
Conference
4th Security Conference, Las Vegas, USA, March 30–31, 2005
Available from: 2007-08-20 Created: 2007-08-20 Last updated: 2013-03-19
In thesis
1. Securing Information Assets: Understanding, Measuring and Protecting against Social Engineering Attacks
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Securing Information Assets: Understanding, Measuring and Protecting against Social Engineering Attacks
2008 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Social engineering denotes, within the realm of security, a type of attack against the human element during which the assailant induces the victim to release information or perform actions they should not. Our research on social engineering is divided into three areas: understanding, measuring and protecting. Understanding deals with finding out more about what social engineering is, and how it works. This is achieved through the study of previous work in information security as well as other relevant research areas. The measuring area is about trying to find methods and approaches that put numbers on an organization’s vulnerability to social engineering attacks. Protecting covers the ways an organization can use to try to prevent attacks. A common approach is to educate the users on typical attacks, assailants, and their manipulative techniques. In many cases there are no preventive techniques, dealing with the human element of security, in place.

The results show that social engineering is a technique with a high probability of success. Furthermore, defense strategies against it are complicated, and susceptibility to it is difficult to measure. Important contributions are a model describing social engineering attacks and defenses, referred to as the Cycle of Deception, together with a thorough discussion on why and how social engineering works. We also propose new ways of conducting social engineering penetration testing and outline a set of recommendations for protection. It is crucial to involve managers more, but also to train the users with practical exercises instead of theoretical education, for example, by combining measuring exercises and penetration testing with training. We also discuss the future threat of Automated Social Engineering, in which software with a simple form of artificial intelligence can be used to act as humans using social engineering techniques online, making it quite hard for Internet users to trust anyone they communicate with online.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm University, 2008. 97 p.
Series
Report Series/Department of Computer & Systems Sciences, ISSN 1101-8526 ; 09-001
National Category
Information Science
Research subject
Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:his:diva-2916 (URN)978-91-7155-786-5 (ISBN)
Public defence
(English)
Note

Sammanläggning: 7 artiklar

Available from: 2009-06-26 Created: 2009-03-27 Last updated: 2013-02-14Bibliographically approved

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Citation style
  • apa
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More styles
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Output format
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