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Social Engineering and Influence: A Study that Examines Kevin Mitnick’s Attacks through Robert Cialdini’s Influence Principles

Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE credits
Student thesis
Abstract [en]

As technology matures, new threats rise and take the place of the “traditional” issues (insecure infrastructure, insecurely developed software, etc.), threats that revolve around exploiting human vulnerabilities instead of technical vulnerabilities. One of the most famous threats that have risen in the area of Information Security is Social Engineering.  The goal of this study is to take an interpretive approach on Social Engineering, by using Cialdini’s principles of influence.

In order to be able to interpret the attacks, the study examines documented attacks (by Kevin Mitnick), abstracts them, categorizes them into four main categories (Gain Physical Access, Install Malware, Information Extraction, Perform an Action), models them by graphically depicting the execution path of the attack and finally interprets how the victims were influenced (or manipulated) to assist the attacker(s).

This study is executed using the Literature Review methodology, following the eight steps proposed by Okoli. During the execution of the study the author examines the principles of Influence, Social Engineering models and additional psychological principles used in Social Engineering. The author, based on the findings in the literature, creates Social Engineering attack models and interprets the findings.  The importance of the study is that it explains how the well-known principles of Influence are used in Social Engineering attacks. The psychological findings and the models created lead the author to believe that there is a possibility for them to be used as a framework for solving Social Engineering attacks

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. , 159 p.
Keyword [en]
Social Behaviour Law, Social Engineering, Influence, Persuasion
Keyword [sv]
Samhälls-, beteendevetenskap, juridik
URN: urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-42878
Local ID: 0d61b8aa-30ad-4cb0-9039-e04832f250a7
DiVA: diva2:1016104
External cooperation
Subject / course
Student thesis, at least 30 credits
Educational program
Information Security, master's level
Karasti, Helena
Validerat; 20130812 (global_studentproject_submitter)
Available from: 2016-10-04 Created: 2016-10-04
Bibliographically approved

Source: DiVA

Topics: Social Engineering, technology, execution path of attack, exploiting human vulnerabilities, Gain Physical Access, penetration testing, Perform an Action, victims influenced, World's Most Famous Hacker, Cialdini's principles of influence, insecure infrastructure, Install Malware, keynote speaker, Okoli, security awareness training, security consultant, Information Extraction, Literature Review methodology, malware, simulated phishing, Spam, cybercrime, cybersecurity vulnerabilities, Kevin Mitnick

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