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Penetration Testing by Georgia Weidman

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Chapter 11. Social Engineering

It is a common saying in information security that users are the vulnerability that can never be patched. Put all the security controls in place that you want, but if an employee can be convinced to give up sensitive company information, it is all for naught. In fact, many of the most famous hacks include no system exploitation at all.

For example, consider notorious hacker Kevin Mitnick. Many of Mitnick’s most famous exploits came down to walking into a building, convincing the security guard he had permission to be there, and then walking out with what he wanted. This kind of attack, called social engineering, exploits human vulnerabilities: a desire to be helpful, unawareness of security policies, and so on.

Social-engineering ...

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