When media stories about successful hacking attacks make headlines, the public perception is that the ability to hack is a mysterious and dark art. Often, the image is one of a young, socially inept but really clever computer nerd, typing complicated code on his keyboard.
Yet, the reality is much simpler. Hacking is defined as the unauthorised access to or control over a computer network security system for personal gain. The computer network security system can be a mobile phone, tablet, laptop, pc, a network or the cloud. It can also be poorly secured, easy to penetrate and open to abuse.
In much the same way that you can sometimes gain access to a locked room or building without knowing how to use lock picks ( door not locked, window left open, spare key etc.), so you can hack without learning Java, Python, LISP or any of the other hacking languages.
When a British teenager named Kane Gamble hacked the then CIA Director’s confidential information on his computer; and News of the World journalists accessed voicemail on mobile phones, the technique used is called elicitation.
Elicitation is a process for getting information from someone by getting them to react in a particular way. It is also known as “social engineering”.
6 techniques to get the information you want
- Accept that most people believe that others are honest and polite. Although this social conditioning ensures civil society, you can use it to your advantage. People want to be helpful
- Research the source of your information. If you want personal details about a subscriber to a mobile phone company, use the language of a phone company technician when calling the customer service helpdesk.
- Build rapport first. Ask questions later. Rapport can be built by starting a conversation, making a comment or paying a compliment.
- Express disbelief or ignorance to encourage a person to defend their position or show off their knowledge.
- Share information so that the person will reciprocate. Sometimes, lowering your voice or prefixing a comment with the phrase” I should not be telling you this”, encourages a reciprocal response.
- Ask a person to elaborate on what they have already said by using flattery or pretending to be ignorant.
Often, you need to get information from someone to help you survive in a hostile environment. Attend one of our courses and learn the art of social engineering.
H.E.A.T. tip: When eliciting information, use the conversational hourglass. This will help you ask general questions first before focusing on more specific topics. Use the person’s responses to build a fuller picture of what you require.