In March 2012, the crew at Social-Engineer launched their premiere, live, interactive social engineering course and performance based certification dubbed Social Engineering for Penetration Testers (S.E.P.T.). Many people around the globe have expressed curiosity about a live training class based on hardcore social psychology principals. We spent some time after the course to write down our experiences to tell the world what it is like to sit in a class focused on the human element.

Before we dive into the class, let’s introduce the instructors.

Chris Hadnagy is a professional social engineer and author of Social Engineering: The Art of Human Hacking. Chris also started and runs the primary social engineering destination on the Internet, Through his book, website, podcast, newsletter, blog, and now the Social Engineering for Penetration Testers class, Chris focuses on helping his customers, friends, and family remain secure through education.  His passion is in nonverbal human hacking as well as practical application of the principles of social engineering.

Robin Dreeke is the head of the Behavioral Analysis Program at the FBI. Robin is also the author of the definitive guide to rapport building, It’s Not All About “Me”.  Each day at the FBI and in his life Robin uses social engineering principles to help solve cases, recruit sources, and enrich the lives of those around him.  His passions are statement analysis and nonverbal body language.

Disclaimer: The views and information expressed do not represent the views or are endorsed by the FBI.

The course is broken down into five days, the first four ending in with a practical homework assignment performed in the field.

“Social Engineering for Pen Testers was the best class I have ever taken in my decades in this field. It is not just a security class, it is a life class.”


The first day is all learning about self. What makes you tick?  This is the only time in the course we really focus on “you”. It is essential to truly understand who you are before you can learn to influence others.

The day started by Robin walking us through a profiling tool called DISC.  This self-assessment helps the student to learn what dominant personality type they have.  Once the student is able to determines their dominant personality type they are taught specifics about how to communicate, work with, and interact with their personality type. The students are then taught how to identify other people’s personality types to formulate a positive engagement strategy.

The next part of the day is spent educating the students how to build rapport, how to engage people with different personality types, and what their strengths and weaknesses are.  The students are engaged, tested, and pushed to their limits to stretch them out of their comfort zones.

As 5pm approaches, the class draws to an end but the training is hardly over. The day ends with a real world practical homework assignment to be conducted off-site.  The students are placed into teams of 2, each with opposing personality types, and sent out to gather information from every day citizens.  Now before you think we sent a hoard of social engineers like vultures to descend upon the town, we sent them out with some simple rules:

1.    No person is left feeling victimized – This was a big one for us. Under no circumstance were the students to leave their target feeling uneasy or victimized. The theme for the week was, “Leave the target feeling happy to have met you.”.
2.    The details we are getting are specific and non-financial –
3.    Have fun

“This course was so much more than what I expected, it isn’t just about social engineering, it is about being a better human.” – Dan


Each student leaves with his team member in the evening to prepare for their “attack”. On day one, many students left the classroom feeling like this task is near impossible but, as we will see in the next blog post, produced surprising results! Learning all about one’s self is the first step in understanding others. Being able to identify personality types of your target simply by observing the target or even by reading what your target wrote are just some of the invaluable tools learned on Day 1. Stay tuned for our next blog post detailing Day 2 of this ground breaking class!