Social engineering methods are used by everyday people on a regular basis. This is often done without direct intention, they are used simply because they are so effective.
Children use 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 and moping. Or by expressing 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 parent elicits feelings of shame or guilt to motivate the child to take the actions the parent desires.
Social engineering methods are employed by everyday people in customer service. A customer service representative will adopt a friendly, cheerful manner. The goal is to have the customer mirror this behavior. As a result, the customer is easier to interact with.
Broadcast news is a competitive business. Therefore, it often uses social engineering methods to retain as many viewers as possible. Two common methods of this is by teasing and promising.
For example, a news broadcast may tease viewers with a story that is of high interest. But, not state when in the broadcast it is going to air. This keeps the viewer watching. For surely, if they change the channel, they may miss the story. Usually the teaser story will run at the end of the broadcast.
Another method news broadcasts use is a promise to deliver something that competition is unable to through the use of tools or technology. This is common in weather forecasting. Tools may have high tech, or futuristic sounding names. And 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 have 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 often uses 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. For example, if you wish to share data you will have to use the same tools and products they use. One more related example is cell phone companies which offer unlimited calling to other users on the same network. This places social pressure to use the same product that those in their social network use.
Everyday people like doctors and philologists use 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 use 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. For instance, you can make it clear what actions the target must take to make you a happy customer.