Social engineering methods are utilized by many people on a regular basis. This is often done without direct intention by the person making use of the method; they are utilized simply because they are so effective.
Children utilize social engineering methods early on in life. They make use of multiple methods, with the most common focused on a parents desire to make the child happy. This can be through active methods such as pouting or moping, or through active methods such as referring to their general state of unhappiness due to some object or action they desire the parent to take.
Parents often focus on a child’s desire for approval when employing social engineering methods. This is normally done through manipulating the child’s desire to have the parents approval. Often the method employed is by the parent eliciting feelings of shame or guilt to motivate the child to take the actions the parent desires.
Social engineering methods are employed by most customer service areas at the first contact with the customer. A friendly, cheerful manner is often employed, with the intent of the customer mirroring this behavior making them easier to interact with.
Broadcast news is a competitive business, and will often use social engineering methods in the form of teasers and promises to obtain and then retain as many viewers as possible. Two common methods of this is by teasing a story that is of high interest to many viewers, but not stating exactly when in the broadcast it is going to air. This keeps the viewer watching, as it is constantly being reinforced to them that if they change channels, they may miss the story. Often times, this story will be ran toward the end of the broadcast.
Another method news broadcasts will utilize is a promise of the ability to deliver something that competition is unable to through the use of tools or technology. This is most common in weather forecasting, as often times tools will be given high tech or futuristic sounding names, in many cases with large numbers attached to them. The implication is, if the number is higher than what the competition is offering, it must be of better accuracy.
Many times in an effort to retain customers, businesses will attempt to find ways that make the cost of migration off of the company’s product be more expensive then the benefit of leaving to another. This will often times utilize the social engineering method of social acceptance.
This is the methodology of most instant messaging networks, as if you wish to speak to your friends that are using one network you must become a customer of that product as well. Another example is through file formats, where if you wish to share data with others you are required to utilize the same tools and products they are using. One more related example is cell phone companies which offer unlimited calling to other users on the same network. This places social pressure on one to utilize the same product that those in their social network utilize.
Doctors and philologists will need to utilize aspects of social engineering such as elicitation and observance to obtain useful information on their targets, or patients. The use of good questions and then prescribing treatments can also be a form of one of the aspects of social engineering.
Dangers of “Obvious Social Engineering”
If a social engineer is targeting an organization that makes use of obvious social engineering methods, it may be possible to utilize that as a tool against the organization. For instance, if the target has a goal of making customers happy, then you can work with that knowledge, indicating that what is required to make you a happy customers is for the target to take the actions you desire.