Those who picture hacker legend Kevin Mitnick seated before a computer, tirelessly picking apart application code and exhaustively probing remote networks for weaknesses, have got the wrong idea. While perfectly capable of such attacks—at least against the software and network paraphernalia in use before his five years of federal detention—he rarely had to bother. Mitnick is a master of social engineering (SE): tech slang for “persuading people to act against their own interests.” In the real world, we run across social engineers every day, only we call them con artists.
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