Sunday, September 22, 2013

Social Engineering: A Lesson In Digital Citizenship

Source: Cybercrime Review (detail)
If you’re like us, the term “social engineering” may not have entered your tool kit for teaching digital citizenship. According to Wikipedia, it is the psychological manipulation to get people to divulge confidential information by building a sense of trust. In the current digital environment, it is used for the purpose of gathering information or access to data via the Internet.

We’ve heard of phishing, hacking, or just looking over someone’s shoulder, but this approach is much more, as illustrated in the infographic Hacking the Mind from Veracode. Social engineering affects everyone. Perhaps a good way to describe it is human hacking.

Security Search describes it as away to trick people into breaking normal security procedures by gaining the confidence of the user. Our learners are particular vulnerable to this, because social engineering is designed to exploit the natural trust children have of others, to take advantage of their naïveté, or to prey on their weaknesses from not being fully informed.

While we constantly talk to our students to remind them how to protect themselves online, we have never used the term social engineering. For that reason, we began showing them the following Social Engineering motion graphic to help them build an understanding of what it is and to become familiar with the term.

As we’ve mentioned many times before, we find that visualizations help to seal the deal and make the message better understood. Our young learners have a lot to think about in the digital world. Anytime we can give them one more view of how to protect themselves from online scams, the better.


  1. It's unfortunate that you have chosen to focus on just the more recent and negative understanding of 'social engineering' by pointing to just one of two Wikipedia articles about social engineering. That's in the same league as the recasting of 'hacker' as a mostly negative term which is not its original meaning. It's true that nefarious intruders into computer systems are labelled as hackers and that some, possibly most, computer security breaches result from social engineering. However, social engineering as a term has a much longer and less nefarious history. See the other Wikipedia article on social engineering -

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  4. Social engineering is a form of techniques employed by criminals to manipulate users and get sensitive information from customers. learn from learn hacking online to protect from them.

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