Social engineers are nothing new to society. In some sense they’ve always existed but they’ve just been going by different names. Conman, grifter, flimflammer, trickster. I think you get the point. A social engineer is a person who uses his social skills to manipulate people or organizations (or in some cases entire societies) into giving him what he wants.
Micro scale social engineering however is very different from macro scale social engineering. An example of micro scale social engineering would be when a conman tricks someone into lending him money and not giving it back (an inelegant con, but a con none the less). An example of macro scale social engineering would be wartime propaganda used to convince a society to support the war effort.
So where does this become relevant to me as a hacker? If you’re hacking a target you may find that public exploits are not available because the target is kept up to date and security is seemingly airtight. But often times the weakest link in an organization is the human behind the desk. With social engineering you won’t even have to crack open your terminal to gain sensitive data and potentially access to a target. I’ll cover more in depth about methods employed by social engineers in future articles, but a great book to learn more about social engineering from a hackers perspective would be Social Engineering: The art of Human Hacking. Go check it out or google around and do some research of your own.