Social engineering is the art of social influence, or the science of influencing individuals, groups, and systems, typically through indirect means. This can describe shaping opinion and influence on an interpersonal, small group, national, or even world-wide level. Importantly, it doesn’t denote malicious intent.

Social engineering is simply the use of social psychology, marketing, and other social influence tools to impact behavior and “bypass psychological and physical firewalls”. So, in its most mundane sense, it is something simple like a moral boosting speech or advertising. The morality of social engineering relies just as much on the morality and transparency of the tactics, as it does the message.

Terms like social engineering and propaganda get a bad reputation, but they are both simply calculated tactics to influence individual and social behavior. In this way, a politician’s speech, or a company’s press release or advert, is a form of social engineering and propaganda. Social engineering describes the tactics used, while propaganda describes the ideology behind the content.

In the world of cryptography and technology social engineering is a way of get around the need for brute force attacks by bypassing social firewalls rather than hardcoded ones. For instance, it would be easier to get into your spouses Facebook page by going on their computer by distracting them away from the computer with a convenient self-initiated phone call to their mom, rather than trying to guess their password. Your tactics were engineered with methods based in the social sciences, rather than technological ones, thus, this is a form of social engineering.

The show “Mr. Robot” (affiliate link) uses social engineering as one of its main themes (so it is a good place for a visual).


Factoids tagged with "Social Engineering"

Hitler Was a Socialist Myth

The idea that “Hitler was a socialist” is a myth. Hitler was a Fascist. Fascism has some socialist roots, but it is a unique authoritarian and nationalist ideology separate from socialism.

Fake News is Real Fact

“Fake news” is news meant to influence rather than provide pure information. It is real and as old as the printing press. However, only some of what is labeled as “fake news” is actually “fake.”

Lenin and Stalin are Real Names Myth

Neither Lenin or Stalin are real names. Vladimir Lenin was born Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, and Joseph Stalin was born Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili.

Saul Alinsky Was a Satanist Myth

Saul Alinsky wasn’t a satanist, nor did he dedicate Rules for Radicals to Lucifer. Alinsky simply used Lucifer as a literary device to teach community organizing.

Game Theory is the Science of Strategy Fact

Game theory is “the science of strategy,” a branch of mathematics that studies the strategy, rules, and statistics of decision making games and applies it to other fields.

People Can be Truly Unbiased Myth

People can’t be truly unbiased; we are hardwired with bias and create bias constantly as part of the natural neurological process of learning.

Blog Posts tagged with "Social Engineering"

What is an Alternative Fact?

“Alternative facts” is a term coined by Trump’s White House counselor Kellyanne Conway to describe questionable information presented as facts.

The Origin of Politically Correct

The exact origin of the term politically correct isn’t known, but its first modern usage is from 1793 and the related political argument over tolerance is as old as politics itself.

The Bed of Nails Principle

The bed of nails principle states that while laying on one nail is enough to puncture a person’s skin, laying on many distributed nails isn’t.

What Does “Politically Correct” Mean?

Political Correctness (PC) generally describes the debate surrounding tolerance, sensitivity, and self-or-state censorship. More specifically, it refers to the “correct” treatment of groups, in the context of current politics, regarding language and policies.

Arete Explained

Areté roughly means “moral virtue”. It refers to an innate “excellence” or “essence” in all things, and the striving toward that potential or purpose.