Hacking: The difference between NLP and NLH - part I
NLH vs NLP – What’s the Difference?
Last month we introduced a new level of social engineering science we are
calling neuro-linguistic hacking (NLH). Many people approached us in
Vegas at Defcon and Black Hat asking what the big deal was and what was so
different about Neuro- Linguistic Hacking (NLH) versus Neuro-Linguistic
Programming (NLP). That is an excellent question with a very definite answer.
Last month we defined NLP. Neuro: Points to our nervous
system which we process our five senses:
Linguistic: This points to how we use language and other
nonverbal communication systems through which our neural representations are
coded, ordered and given meaning. This can include things like:
Programming: This is our ability to discover and utilize
the programs that we run in our neurological systems to achieve our specific
and desired outcomes.
In short, NLP is how to use the language of the mind to consistently
achieve, modify and alter our specific and desired outcomes (or that of a
Wikipedia defines NLP as:
"Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) is a controversial approach to
psychotherapy and organizational change based on "a model of interpersonal
communication chiefly concerned with the relationship between successful
patterns of behavior and the subjective experiences (esp. patterns of
thought) underlying them" and "a system of alternative therapy
based on this which seeks to educate people in self-awareness and effective
communication, and to change their patterns of mental and emotional
NLP in its basest form is all about “you”. It is using the skills that NLP
practitioners teach such as anchoring, magic words and internal communication
but all with one goal in mind: To change you. To change a deep seated belief
and thought, a bad habit, or to help you achieve a goal.
NLP relies heavily on reframing and that made it very popular to be used as a
therapy method. Reframing is when one seeks to change a behavior by
shifting the context and/or meaning of a thought or action. Such as finding
the positive in a thought or situation one is in.
Those who seek therapy are often depressed and see much more of the negative
side of things. Therapists who are successful at using reframing techniques
are able to help their patients see there is a “silver lining” in the dark
clouds that confront them often.
The therapist will often examine where the patient wants to be not what
brought them to therapy as part of their reframing. They use questioning that
helps the patient envision where they want to be. An example of this:
“Suppose our meeting is over and you go home. When it is later in the evening
you are tired and you go to sleep. As you are sleeping a miracle occurs and
cures all your problems that caused you to seek therapy. But since you are
sleeping nobody is able to tell you. As you awake in the morning how do you
see yourself discovering that this miracle happened? What else are you
going to notice that will tell you this miracle occurred?”
This is a talent only the very skilled therapist can use but if done right it
will cause the patient to begin to reframe their thoughts and they will start
to imagine what life would be like without the problems. As they talk about
it, the patient can start to envision the solutions and how implementing them
will make life better.
Now, all of this is excellent information and really only sets the stage as
to how powerful NLP is and how it is used in a way that can truly change
lives. Of course this is just one use for NLP but it defines how NLP is more
about you and not a target, not a friend, not about other people.
How NLH is Different
NLH differs very much from NLP but there is one major characteristic about it
that is worth focusing on. Last month I discussed how NLH encompasses using
body language, vocal tones and microexpressions in manipulating your emotions
to effect others.
With this description is the answer. Whereas NLP is about your internal
change and changing your thoughts and mind and feelings, NLH is about using
your body language, vocal tones and expressions to manipulate the feelings
and emotions of your target. Whereas NLP can teach you to use anchor words
and tones to change your feelings on a matter. NLH teaches you to use those
same things to control your emotions and display the emotion that will push
your target down the path you want.
Let me give you an example of how this works. If you wanted a target to feel
some compassion, as compassion might make them more susceptible to suggestion
you can take a few approaches. Of course you will need to have your
elicitation well planned out but there are also some very key NLH techniques
you can use.
First lets analyze what we want from the target. Empathy is described as “the
human ability to internalize the emotional state of others”. If you haven’t
already, meditate on the power of that statement. If you can cause the target
to internalize your emotions they will feel what you “feel” and in essence a
request along those line will not be able to be ignored.
Dr. Carol Goman, an Italian Researcher, found that when a person moved their
hand in a gesture as if to caress another persons hand and that person
rejected the caress, the person who was viewing the video felt the social
rejection. The brain reacted as if the rejection occurred to them. How did
Dr. Goman’s research tells us that when we empathize with another person the
very same circuits trigger in our brain as the person who felt the original
emotion. If we empathize with someone on the emotion of grief our brains will
actually trigger the same circuits to cause that same emotion in our brain.
They are calling these “mirror neuron’s” for obvious reasons.
Knowing this the natural response is to match our body language with emotion
we want the target to feel. This is vital to NLH success. If we can display
even subtle hints of compassion in our body language we can cause the target
to feel this. If we are nervous and worried we may make the target feel very
anxious and therefore not willing to answer our questions.
Remember body language conveys your emotions. To convey compassion we would
need to develop a few skills. The way we speak needs to display what they
call “heart”. Using positive anchor words, positive in the sense of what we
want the target to do, will give the target a reason to mirror the emotion.
Along with speaking comes listening. If we do not listen when the target
speaks we cannot properly display, or get them to mirror compassion. Empathic
listening is very important to NLH. Listening with an idea of what you can do
to help, learn or understand the speaker. Of course these seems to go against
the idea of using NLH to prove security flaws in people, but it just the
contrary. Trust is formed as we display compassion and that trust can cause
people to say, do or agree to things that can cause a breach.
Compassion is open, friendly and warm. So body language that is close, rigid
or cold will not match with the language we are using in our NLH exercise.
This is very important as if the whole story does not match we will not be
This is just a tip of the iceberg as next month I will discuss another
difference of NLH in how one can use microexpressions in addition to body
Written by Christopher Hadnagy