In the News: US Intelligence, Security, and Defense Officials Snookered by Social Engineering

Eye on Flat Panel MonitorI’m continually amazed by the success of social engineering ploys to extract information from unsuspecting individuals. However, a recent article in Computerworld points out that people in the intelligence, security and defense organizations of the US Government have also fallen prey to social engineering. These are folks: who can’t show up for work without a security clearance; who’re subjected to numerous policies, procedures, regulations and laws about keeping secrets; who receive information security awareness training about Internet security, on a regular basis; are able to be duped by social engineering just like people ignorant of information security. 

So…I’m wondering [tongue in cheek] if there’s any hope of normal people ever being able to sniff out a social engineering scheme. If our best “keepers of the secrets” can be fooled, what possible hope is there for we mere mortals? 

If there’s any hope; it’s in the education of the masses to these ploys and schemes as we find out about them. We bloggers who’re concerned about this—among whom are: Bill Mullins, Rick Robinette,  and this blog–have been posting articles on this subject on a frequent basis to educate the average Internet user to this social engineering problem. But what will really make a difference is when the average Internet user takes our advice seriously. This is important, so let me repeat: what will really make a difference is when the average Internet user takes our advice seriously. 

Please comment on this article; we all learn from each other when our views and opinions are shared. 

I hope you found this article interesting.  If you enter your email address in the Email Subscriptions box on the right side of the page, I’ll send you an email when a new article is posted.  I don’t share your email address with anyone…not anyone; I hate spam too.  Please share my site with your friends and family.  Thanks. 

Remember, home computing is a blast…keep it productive and enjoyable. 

Best regards,




Filed under In the News, Internet, security

5 responses to “In the News: US Intelligence, Security, and Defense Officials Snookered by Social Engineering

  1. Bill Mullins

    BTW, I meant to add, I’ve heard that story from Rod before. He’s one tricky Auzzie. 🙂


  2. Bill Mullins

    Hi Paul,

    In April of ’09, I wrote an article “Play ‘Want to Infect Your Computer With Malware?’ – Follow These Easy Steps!” – surprisingly it was a huge hit. People who had no business clicking on this article, clicked by the hundreds.

    Social engineering combined with user stupidity (and there’s lots of that to go around), is a sure fire winner for the bad guys.

    Keep up the great work,



    • Bill,
      Thanks for the comment, it’s true, as you and Rod point out that it doesn’t take much, if any, social engineering to get some folks to act stupid. It’s amazing that when some people get in front of a computer their common sense disappears…click first, think last. As was proven by your’s and Rod’s examples, the stupidity of the folks who’ll click on anything will thrill the crooks. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experience.

  3. Hi Paul,

    Who needs social engineering ? Many years ago, to prove a point, I posted a (harmless) “Click here to infect your computer” link online on one of my security websites. In the three days it was online, more than 150 people clicked on it.

    Compulsive mouseclickers are their own worst enemy!

    What the average web user really needs is education, but no-one wants to listen … so we get governments stepping in to protect us from our own carelessness (stupidity ?) by trying to ram URL blockers and censoring filters up our noses eight days a week. 😦

    • Rod,
      Great comment. It’s hard to believe how much trouble our unbridled curiosity will get us into, and your experiment proves the point that some of us click first and think last. Thanks for stopping by.

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s