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The Not So Social Side of Social Hacking

Phishing is a term that you may have heard in the news or in warnings from your IT department. It is someone posing as a trusted entity to get sensitive information by E-Mail. Social Hacking is getting sensitive information about a computer system from an unsuspecting person through the building of trust and misleading them. Over 60% of data breaches are caused by these methods.


Sample E-mails that you may receive may look like these:

  • Did you see this great video of you? Click on this link.
  • You have received a Birthday card from a friend – Click on the link to download it.
  • Someone has a secret crush on you – click on the link to see who.
  • This is Chris from IT. Many of our company computers have been infected with a background virus. Please click on the following link and resign into our corporate system with your login and password to examine your computer and send the results to the IT department.


All the above messages may be customized by information gathered from Social media such as Facebook to make them more believable. The birthday card message may arrive on your birthday to give it credence. When the link is clicked upon, malicious malware may be installed on your computer that can delete files, E-mail sensitive files to third parties, compromise sensitive data such as passwords, or completely wipe out your hard drive.

In 2005 a teen hacker and two helpers gained full access to the AOL account of the then Director of the CIA, John Brennan. They got his Security Clearance application, Medical Records, personal information about him and his family, and much more. They achieved this by getting his phone number from a reverse search, then verbally socially hacking Verizon over a phone into giving them his Email address, last 4 of his social Security number and Verizon PIN.

Phishing Emails can look very authentic, using copied corporate Logos and details to resemble a genuine request, especially to a harried worker looking at a hundred E-Mails a day. If you get a suspicious or unexpected email with a link to click on, simply hover the mouse pointer over the link “box” and the address will appear. If it is genuine, the full company address will appear, such as Apple.com or Amazon.com. If some strange sub address shows up, it’s obviously a phony and do not click on it. When in doubt, go to the company’s main internet website and log on with your credentials.

To assist in the identification of these malicious messages, John Snow Labs maintains and updates a data base of sites and addresses used for malicious purposes to allow for their identification and can educate your users in the basics of computer security.

Phishing attacks are one of the highest attack methods being utilized by attackers to gain access to privately held data. The success of the attack is due to the fact that it exploits the individual knowledge of the endpoint user. Our Threat Feeds can be leveraged in many different ways to significantly eliminate this persistent threat targeting your employees.

Our Phishing Blacklist is a culmination of Data- Sources that aggregate known “BadIps” and “BadDomains’ used to send these sophisticated phishing campaigns. By leverage this blacklist, your network will have the ability to block many phishing attacks before they can cause the damage they have intended to carry out. John Snow Labs also can also provide the Managed Security Service option, where we operate similar to an on-site IT consultant who can monitor and prevent data breaches related to these type of attacks.