All good storytellers, whether their story is fact or fiction, have one trait in common – they pay attention to the details. Details are what engage the audience. They make the story vivid and believable. And if the storyteller is really talented, he shares just the right details, the ones that the audience can relate to (and the ones they won’t question).
Good fraudsters are excellent storytellers. Take the world’s most famous (ex-)hacker, Kevin Mitnick. Although Mitnick was a gifted programmer, his most impressive work was in the art of Social Engineering.
In fact, Mitnick’s most successful hacks on Telco’s, Government Agencies, and Software Companies almost always involved duping someone into giving him information – most of the time by just chatting them up over the phone. He’d scout the target, learn their jargon, get supervisor names, memorize internal extension numbers, etc. He’d get the details. Then, he’d execute his attack with a story that weaved the details together.
These days our Social Profiles are the stories we tell online. For some Twitter is a near continuous broadcast of daily activities. LinkedIn is the story of your professional life. And the new Facebook Timeline is supposed to be a complete account of your life, literally from birth.
The formats are different, but Fraudsters are quickly learning how to tell these new stories with superbly crafted details. The trouble, however, is that when the story is false, the details can also be the fraudster’s undoing. Each detail is a loose thread which can unravel the entire fabric if pulled. But with the amount of information available, how do you know which threads to pull?
At Signifyd we pull those millions of threads so you don’t have to. In Part 2 of this post, we’ll give you some examples of how we do it…