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"
Niccolò Machiavelli can be considered the father of modern political science, and his book The Prince one of the first works of modern political philosophy (if not just modern philosophy).
Saul Alinsky, the American community organizer and author of Rules for Radicals, can be considered the father of modern community organizing.
Carl Sagan and NASA gained popularity when the longtime space program scientist created the Pioneer plaque and the Voyager Golden Record to be sent to space.
Blog Posts tagged with "Social Engineering"
The problem with unsubstantiated information is that it is unverified as true, and often leaked by sources with plausible deniability, which is confusing.
We explain how experince and social interactions shape our frame of reference and create ideological bubbles, and how this creates confirmation bias and “bubble filters” that reinforce these bubbles.
Villains tend to have mustaches, not because facial hair is evil, but because despots style themselves after other despots.
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 states that while laying on one nail is enough to puncture a person’s skin, laying on many distributed nails isn’t.
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.
Areté roughly means “moral virtue”. It refers to an innate “excellence” or “essence” in all things, and the striving toward that potential or purpose.