Subliminal Hacking
The Art and Science of Social Engineering


January 19, 2011

Hiding in plain sight… Playing it loud and proud

Happy New Year. 2011 has already gotten off to a hectic start for me, as I type this I am still in California working, but looking forward to flying back at the end of the week.

In the last week I have tried out something a little different, and wanted to share my thoughts with you on the matter this month. We have discussed before about the importance of rapport, building those relationships and the fact we like people who are like us, and we like people who like us. With this in mind we tend to try to fit in with our surroundings, look the part so that we can blend in and go unnoticed.

However, what if we went for something almost completely the opposite. What if we didn’t look to sneak under the radar, instead we looked to stand out, stand out so much everyone would remember us. I am talking LOUD and PROUD.


Now I am not saying this is a situation that would suit every engagement, but in certain circumstances I think it can be an approach worth investigating.

In my scenario I found it worked very well in a shared building. I am sure many of you will be familiar with this setup. A large corporate looking building, a central reception, and several floors all occupied by different organisations. On each floor there will then be local receptions, but very often no turnstyles etc to bypass just straight on entry. True possibly an easy target, but a great example to experiment.

So let me get on with my point of loud and proud. If you were to see someone with their best hawaiian holiday shirt, shorts, messenger bag, and iPod on full blast what would you be thinking…… I am hoping you are thinking crazy courier type guy?? If you X-Factor delusions you might want to sing along to your selected Kylie track 🙂

What I have observed in this scenario is that staff, especially reception staff will allow you to go unnoticed. You are the common sited, crazy courier dude, who no one really wants to talk to, and they just want you to get in, deliver your package, and sod off 🙂

I think this approach may work best in the US where in my opinion (not to be Americanist) people are more colourful in their outfit selection, and the warmer weather is more tolerable of your best Magnum Hawaiian special.

Like all social engineering engagements, you need to be aware of what will work culturally, and what will play best to you as an individual and the pre-text you are working from. The take away I really want people to take from this is the following, sometimes playing it safe isn’t the most obvious approach, and getting a little more creative and flamboyant, although making your more noticeable, may actually have that more stealthy approach your seeking.

Give it some thought, experiment, and share your opinions.

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    About the Author

    Dale Pearson
    has worked in IT since 1998, Infosec since 2004, and studied and performed hypnosis, mentalism etc since 2009. Dale is a full time Red Teamer with a love of social engineering and qualified hypnotherapist. He spends a great deal of time researching the various skills and techniques that make up the art and science of Social Engineering.


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