A Face Behind the Mask: What Is A Social Engineer?

A Face Behind the Mask: What Is A Social Engineer?

A Face Behind the Mask: What Is A Social Engineer?

A Social Engineer is someone who uses social engineering techniques to gather information from people. These techniques could be used for several reasons, such as identity theft or obtaining confidential data from an organization. This blog post will discuss what a social engineer does and how they use their knowledge to access private information that isn’t necessarily available in the public domain.

A social engineer uses their powers of persuasion to manipulate others into giving up information that they might not otherwise be comfortable disclosing. 

Social engineers are often very charming and likeable people, making it much easier for them to convince the average person on the street or behind a computer screen that what they’re asking for is nothing ordinary.

Techniques Used By Social Engineers

A social engineer might use any number of different techniques when they’re trying to obtain information from their target, but here are just a few:

The Flattery Method 

In which the attacker uses compliments and praise to get what they want. This is usually combined with another technique, such as creating a sense of obligation or playing on the targets’ sympathies to feel like helping out is nothing more than their duty.

The Reverse Psychology Method 

This method involves using gentle persuasion rather than forcefulness, allowing them to trick people into thinking it was their idea all along!

The “Favor” Method 

This method usually involves the social engineer asking for a favour that appears to be something they need help with. By making it seem like too much of an imposition, the target is more likely to give up information to not appear rude or unfriendly towards them.

The Sting Method  

The social engineer will offer to help out their target, whether it’s by giving them information or fixing a problem they’re having. By doing this, the attacker gets what they want without putting themselves at risk of getting caught.

The Direct Approach 

In which an attacker simply asks for private information such as usernames and passwords directly from their targets. This can happen in person or through email, depending on how well prepared the social engineer is when executing their plan.

Attacks Used by Social Engineers

Social engineering attacks can be used for a wide variety of illegal activities. Still, most of them are designed to either gather sensitive data or gain unauthorized access to privileged accounts. Some common examples include:

Phishing Attacks 

Which use fraudulent emails and messages that appear legitimate to get targets to reveal their usernames and passwords through embedded links or attachments with malware inside.

Dumpster Diving 

This involves searching high and low (usually at night when things are quiet) for any kind of information such as confidential documents, financial records and even discarded hardware like hard drives and mobile phones, which might contain valuable information on them!  

Shoulder Surfing 

Looking over someone’s shoulder while they’re typing out their password or using their card to gain access into a restricted area.


Following someone through an open door without them noticing that you’re entering the facility with them.  


Luring people into breaking security procedures by leaving USB sticks lying around or installing malware inside corporate systems.  

Watering Hole Attacks 

Gaining access to sites or servers that are known to be visited by specific groups of people. These could include the CEO’s favourite news site, an employee assistance program hosted on a specific server or a social media site that employees might use for networking.


Using fake identities and fabricated stories to get people to reveal sensitive information such as login details, passwords, and other private data can be used for illegal purposes.


Pretending to be a member of staff or someone from another department to gain the information they shouldn’t have access to.

What Could A Social Engineer Do With The Information They Have Uncovered?

It’s important to understand just what kinds of things could happen as a result. Here are some examples:

Personal Information 

Any information that an attacker obtains about you might be used as a means of gaining access to your bank accounts or personal email.

Identity Theft 

The more they know about their target, the easier it will be for them to ultimately assume someone else’s identity and use this fraudulently!  

Stealing Intellectual Property 

Suppose a social engineer gains access into another company by posing as an employee who has been sent out on meaningful business (such as attending conferences). In that case, they might try stealing ideas to pass these off under somebody else’s. In that case, suppose name later down the line. This is often called “idea theft”.


Sometimes social engineers will uncover information that could be used to blackmail somebody. This is usually done to force a target into complying with the attacker’s demands by threatening them with this kind of information if they don’t do as instructed.


Stealing sensitive information to pass it on or sell it to a third party. This could be used for illegal activity by the buyer, such as committing fraud, terrorism etc.

How Can Social Engineering Be Prevented?

Preventing something like identity theft is more straightforward said than done, but there are still ways of protecting yourself and organizations against potential attacks by social engineers:

Never Give Out Personal Information

Never give out personal information over the phone unless you initiated the contact first. Banks will never call you up asking for sensitive details such as passwords or credit card numbers. You should also never provide them with personal information by email or online, no matter how legitimate they seem.

Do not give it out if you receive an unsolicited call from someone who claims to be your bank and asks for sensitive details such as passwords or credit card numbers! Banks will always request this type of data in person at a branch office where staff members can verify their identity before giving away anything that could potentially lead to their accounts being compromised.  

Check All Official Looking Emails Closely 

if something seems off about one of these messages, then don’t open it and delete it immediately. Hackers often include links that appear perfectly harmless but contain hidden commands ready for execution when clicked on by unsuspecting targets; even if a link seems completely harmless, it’s still best to avoid clicking on them.

Disconnect All Devices From The Internet 

This includes your smart TV and any other device which can be potentially hacked by cybercriminals whenever you’re not using them! Removing these potential targets will reduce the risks of attacks because hackers won’t access anything potentially valuable through an unsecured connection.  

Invest In Anti-virus Software 

Many antiviruses include features that protect against identity theft or data loss due to malware being installed onto company computers without anyone realizing what has happened. Without proper protection like this, even small pieces of malicious code could lead to someone gaining control over one or more aspects of an organization, leading to far more severe consequences.

Victims Of Social Engineers

  • This one is a bit old, but it’s still worth sharing. In 2013, social engineer Simon Smith tricked employees working for the London Stock Exchange into giving away information about their parent company by posing as an official from another firm! He called up and pretended to be someone from “Telehouse International” – a real business that works closely with the exchange – who was trying to get in touch with them about some urgent security issues they needed to take care of ASAP.
  • British actor Hugh Grant fell victim to this kind of attack back in 2007 when he received phone calls purporting to come from his bank asking him for his details to transfer money between accounts. The callers sounded convincing enough that he ended up transferring £750 worth of telephone credit to someone who was supposedly going through a tough time.
  • In 2010, social engineer Jason Coles posed as an IT contractor and tricked employees from the Pentagon into giving him sensitive information about their email accounts by calling up and pretending that he needed help with a security issue! He successfully used this tactic on numerous occasions before being caught red-handed after asking one employee for their mother’s maiden name so that he could reset her password. After doing this several times without any problems, she eventually realized something wasn’t right.


Companies often underestimate social engineering, but it can have severe consequences if left unchecked – even big organizations like government departments or major corporations are not safe from potential attacks, which could lead to money loss and exposure to sensitive information.

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