Smooth talk a slick hacker tool

2011-08-08 07:26
Las Vegas - Hackers at DefCon have long understood that there is no patch for human stupidity.

Skills honed by software renegades at the renowned hacker gathering that ended on Sunday included the art of talking workers into revealing information that can be used to crack into computer networks.

A "Schmooze Strikes Back" contest challenged hackers to test their "social engineering" skills on companies such as Apple, Oracle, Symantec, and Walmart. The contest debuted at the annual DefCon gathering in Las Vegas in 2010.

"The results are worse than they were last year," said Chris Hadnagy, a social engineering specialist running the contest.

"From what we found, we would own everyone on of these companies."

Hackers were able to talk workers at various companies into disclosing anything from the versions of software used in networks to who provided cafeteria food service.

Knowing specifics about software in company computers lets hackers figure out weaknesses to exploit, and sharing operational information could enable someone intent on corporate espionage to sneak into facilities.

The most effective ruses involved calling companies and posing as a potential customer out to be reassured about the safety of doing business together, according to Hadnagy.

Pretending to be calling from another department in a company, or a remote technical support team, proved to be another effective tactic for hackers.

Retail operations were consistently harder targets, possibly because they are more accustomed to interacting with customers, according to Hadnagy.

"Women seemed to be more security conscious," he said of the contest findings, which will be published in a report later this year.

"We call back and get a guy on the phone and we get everything we want," continued Hadnagy, who runs the website.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
Read more on:    cybercrime

linking and moving

2015-04-22 07:36 publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Rugby World Cup 2015

All the action from the 2015 RWC, including live coverage of all 48 matches, breaking news, fixtures, results, logs - and much more!


Rugby World Cup 2015

Heyneke unveils his USA plan
Lancaster, Robshaw consider their futures
Foley destroys England's dream
Boks continue upward curve
Traffic Alerts

Spontaneity is the order of the day. Let go and have some fun. Try not to set too many set plans and expectations and enjoy more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.