Social Engineering CTF

Social engineering is back! Did it go away? Not really, but it's back in the mainstream news. One of the competitions at DefCon this year has been a 'social engineering contest', where contestants were given a list of information they have to obtain and a target company that they have to obtain it from.
They were given a limited amount of time to get as much of the information as they could. And the the result? Not good.
We've touch upon Social engineering before and unless (or even if) you're a super-secret organization with highly trained personnel it is something that is damn near impossible to stop. I would imagine it is easier to do against larger companies (such as those targetted in the contest; the likes of Apple, Microsoft, Cisco, Ford, Coke and BP) , especially those with areas that routinely deal with the public and whose staff are encouraged and trained to be helpful and friendly.

Only 3 out of the 50+ employees contacted by the competitors were skeptical enough to hang up without providing information (and all three were much for the skeptical male stereotype!). Apparently:

"People went as far as opening up their e-mail clients, Adobe Reader, versions of Microsoft Word, and clicking on 'Help/About' and giving the exact version numbers of their software," said Aharoni. "For an attacker, the exact version number would provide a much higher level of success," allowing an attack to be tailored to exploit a vulnerability in that exact program.

The contest was sponsored by who seek to "Exploit the HumanOS".

While I can see the validity of the contest, I hope the details of those called is not released to avoid any punishment or ridicule from their employers or fellow workers. The urge to be helpful is part of human nature and it is a sad fact that there are those who will exploit and manipulate that nature for their own ends.

Time to go and review your Security Awareness training...

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