Sometimes it just pays to be a woman.

Claims “Steve Riley” in his amazing presentation at TechEd called “SEC285 – Defending Against Layer 8: How to Recognize and Combat Social Engineering”  I can’t express to you how much you want to watch this presentation. 

  1. he’s a great speaker and tons of fun to listen to. 

  2. he tells great stories about his life as a social engineer and how much he could accomplish. 

  3. he takes events that every one of us has gone through and shows how just then we might have been engineered, and how people have been have already been taken in these scams already.

  4. (most importantly) he teaches you how to be a successful social engineer. 

  5. it’s like everything you saw in Sneakers, and more! 

  6. he teaches you how to protect yourself from social engineers.

  7. he teaches you how to socially engineer someone who is watching out for a social engineer (hint: sometimes it pays to be a woman)


I’m literally scared now to use ATM machines, or to give my credit card to waiter, or to even talk to a woman now.  Anyone might be a social engineer trying to (ab)use me.  I think it’s safer for me to just get rid of all my ties to technology and live on a farm out in oregon (hey, they’ve got great wine out there).  That… or I’ll just be a hell of a lot more careful now with things that I fnd important.

The idea is simple (and rationally I’ve always known it), but it’s scary to realize how every system out there is only as strong as its weakest link.  And that weakest link is almost always going to be a person.  Every person can be influenced, and so the security of a system can always be influenced as well. 

I’d say more, but you should just watch this yourself and then send this out to your friends.  You’ll be really glad you did.

Comments (16)

  1. fuzu says:

    My biggest drawback to being a woman is the stupid hormones. But it’s probably worth it for the free drinks, not to mention free tech support. How many times have I suckered someone into performing tedious reinstalls on my behalf…

    It’s amazing how social engineering simply prays on society’s expectations and standards. In the U.S. at least, we’ve cornered ourselves into a certain attitude and behavior towards the female gender, our own privacy, and our technology, and in doing so, we’ve left ourselves vulnerable. There’s an analogy to code in there somewhere, I just don’t have the cognitive operability to draw it out right now.

    At any rate, an interesting and very entertaining presentation, especially at a forum such as TechEd. Imagine what it feels like in certain professions like business, law, or politics, where networking (the people kind, not the LAN kind!) and social engineering are essential to getting a job done. Imagine the success of each of your projects depending on how well you socially engineer others, as well as counter attempts to socially engineer you. While I think there’s a bit of this in every job, I get the feeling most of us become victims of social engineering, as opposed to using it effectively to our own end.

    But then again, I’m a woman. I’m socially engineering you RIGHT NOW by default 😉

  2. Fuzu: You hold no power over me. Never have, never will!! But that’s because you’re a man bay-bee. Yeahhhh!

  3. Fuzu: Our biggest drawback to you being a woman is also the hormones. 😀

    As to your last point. I would disagree. I think much of the time both sides excel because of the successful social engineering of one person.

    How many times have i seen someone excellently played in a meeting to get something done that someone else wants? Quite a bit. Now how many times have I seen that where the engineered guy ended up actually believing that he wanted to do it. Now that’s amazing.

    One might say that PMs really serve no purpose but to grease the wheels of a company by engineering the engineers into actually being productive… but that might be going to far 😉

  4. Scott says:

    Not to mention you can get laid whenever you want!

  5. fuzu says:

    Cyrus: maybe within certain levels of a company, which is a relatively controlled and monitored environment, this is true. But in general — I don’t know how well that holds up. Look at government, both in the U.S. and abroad. Look at the business "scandals," look even at some religious groups and their agendas. Who’s watching the watchmen?

    Scott: oh yeah!

  6. Scott: You are talking about me right?

    Based on Fuzu’s response, I know you must be. 😀

  7. Jalil Vaidya says:

    In today’s world, this is something that everyone should know about. I am 15 minutes through the presentation and it seems like its straight out of master social engineer Kevin Mitnick’s book The Art of Deception[1]. This book is worth reading for anyone having any level of interest in Social Engineering.


  8. Jalil: Thanks! Added to my list of things to read and attempt to do (without going to jail).

  9. Anonymous says:

    my worklog » Social Engineering presentation

  10. Addy Santo says:

    Hey that URL just broke…. it worked an hour ago when I started, but I paused and now came back to find a 404 instead of the page 🙁

  11. Addy: I’m actively investigating this. I’ll let you know more as soon as i know.

  12. Barbie says:

    i would be a woman any day…its the best that life have to offer

    and a woman’s body is the human body at the most beautify form.

    the selection of clothes is endless and the freedom to express my

    emotions is real and sincere. being a woman is the only way to live

    ones one chance in life here on this world.

    To be a woman is to bring to full maturity all those feminine qualities that deserve to be fostered and preserved throughout a woman’s lifetime

    For to be a woman is to look at the world with gentle, sensitive eyes that see what needs to be done and to possess a spirit that can’t wait to be up and doing.

    A woman has sweet ways, soft ways, charming ways~~ways that comfort, persuade and inspire. But a woman is not a weak vessel, for her spirit is unbreakable, her loyalties are fierce, and her love has a tough fiber that withstands all adversities

    To be a woman is to say "Yes" to the thousands of demands that are made on her abilities and talents from day to day, but to know when to say a firm, unshakeable "No!"

    A woman opens her heart to confidences, then locks the door. A woman encourages a man to be the best man he can be. A woman is a mother to every child who approaches her.

    To be a woman is to meet success with poise, grace and humility and to accept failure with courage and the determination to do a little better another day. A woman never gives up. She keeps a generous supply of hope in her heart and dispenses it freely to those around her.

    It is not easy to be a woman in the busy and materialistic world we live in today. It is not easy to be a good influence, an inspiration, and a source of joy and comfort to everyone she meets, but these things are the very essence of being a woman~~and to be a woman is a truly wonderful thing!

    Theres more to being a woman than barbie dolls, bras, dress, make up and heels…its a state of mind and a special spirit that one is born with and developed in loving kindness