As social engineers, we may wear different hats (sometimes literally) when it comes to getting into character for our pretexts. We also wear different “hats” in relation to roles within our company. Depending on business, some months require playing different roles more than others; February has been one of those months. I have been asked, what else, other than vishing, does my job entail? In this month’s newsletter, I’ll be letting you into my week-by-week schedule and how I’m able to adapt from one role to the next.

The many hats of a social engineer

Week 1

We start week one with a bang. The first live APSE (Advance Practical Social Engineering) class in two years! I attended the virtual APSE class in August of 2021, and it was a life-changing experience for me. I found the material and delivery absolutely fascinating. Now, I have the privilege of being a co-trainer with my mentor Chris Hadnagy and my colleague Shelby Dacko. Part of the class covers learning your own communication style to be able to communicate better with others. Learning about this when I took the class has helped me to adapt my communication style, enabling me to improve my skills as a trainer.

The class size was small, 8 students, but the talent in that room was off the charts! Every evening the students would go out and do homework, then they would share their stories the next day. Each day that passed, the students would get better and better. It was an amazing thing to watch their growth in a matter of days.

Week 2

The many hats of a social engineer

Lights, camera, action! I started the second week filming a few introductory videos for our Institute for Social Engineering (ISE), which will be launching soon. This sounded quite simple to me: you read a teleprompter in front of a camera. What could be so hard about that? Let’s just start by saying that there’s a lot of work behind the scenes that often goes unnoticed. From what to wear on camera to creating the right makeup look, which was beautifully done by our makeup artist on set, Amaya Hadnagy. Then there’s the teleprompter. It took me a few tries to get used to the pace of the teleprompter. I did not want to sound like I was reading but telling my audience about the subject at hand.

I’m normally a very reserved person. When I saw the lights, cameras and all the people that would be looking at me during the filming process, I had to figure out a way to keep my nerves at bay. I then came up with the idea that I would “pretext” my way through it. Working as a social engineer has taught me that I can do almost anything when I get into character and believe my pretext. I created a character for this project; I was now a “news anchor.” This helped me to get into the role and perform with confidence.

Week 3

The many hats of a social engineer

On week 3, I was back to vishing. I had to review my pretexts and get into my characters to get back to making calls for our client. Before making any vishing calls, I like to review my outlines to make sure I have all the information I need should my targets ask any questions. Some of the things included in my vishing outline are my alias, department name, fake employee ID, and supervisor’s name, just to name a few things. What makes a great chess player? The ability to anticipate your opponent’s move. While you want to be spontaneous in your conversation, you also want to anticipate possible questions or scenarios that the target will give you. Having this ready will help you pivot in your pretext if needed.

During this week, I was also working on some edits for February’s blog as well as writing this newsletter. Also, I attended several meetings to prepare my next lesson for next week’s APSE class. My colleague Shelby and I have been busy going through different lessons to prepare as we’re each teaching different portions of the class. We then listen to each other’s lessons to see where we can improve.

Week 4

APSE here we go again! I am very much looking forward to the next APSE class. I say “looking forward” because, at the point when I wrote this newsletter, I was ending my third week of the month. In every class there are lessons to be learned. Not only from my colleagues, but also from each student. I love to see all the different approaches that different individuals take to complete their homework, which consists of applying the principles learned in class. The upcoming class will be amazing for sure!


The takeaway? Adaptability. I have learned that to be successful in any career (and in life), one must be adaptable. Sometimes change can be scary. Predictability can make us feel safe, but can we really grow if we don’t try new things? Even if they don’t feel “authentic” to who you are, learning new skills and practicing new behaviors will enable us to evolve into better versions of ourselves.

Written by: Rosa Rowles