Each week the CyberWire’s Hacking Humans Podcast looks behind the social engineering scams, phishing schemes, and criminal exploits that are making headlines and taking a heavy toll on organizations around the world. We talk to social engineering experts, security pros, cognitive scientists, and those practiced in the arts of deception (perhaps even a magician or two). We also hear from people targeted by social engineering attacks and learn from their experiences.
Hacking Humans Episode List
I have been practicing honesty and truthfulness my whole life.
Followup from an Australian listener. Dave shares a Paypal scam leveraging Google ads. Joe describes TechCrunch reporting on a spam service that was left out in the open. The catch of the day promises a lifetime supply of gold. Dave interviews Asaf Cidon from Barracuda Networks.
Scammers have no ethics whatsoever.
Joe describes a study of people's perceptions when presented with a magic trick. Dave shares the story of fake boyfriend app. Our catch of the day involves the promise of millions from a bank in Africa. Dave interviews Chris Parker from WhatIsMyIPaddress.com.
Girl Scouts empowering cyber security leaders.
Dave describes a survey of call center security methods. Joe explains a spam campaign raising the specter of a flu pandemic to scare people into enabling macros in an Office document. The catch of the day highlights a Facebook scammer promising a prize-winning windfall. Carole Theriault returns with a story about special badges Girl Scouts can earn for cyber security.
Pick a persona to match the goal.
Followup on remotely previewing websites. Joe has the story of scammer bilking Facebook and Google out of millions. Dave reviews best practices for deleting data on devices you dispose of. The catch of the day is an offer of criminal partnering with the CIA. Our guest is Jeremy N. Smith, author of the book Breaking and Entering - the extraordinary story of a hacker called "Alien".
Kids are a great target.
A listener recommends an online tool for safely previewing web sites. Dave shares research on what time of the work week is best for scams. Joe explains credential stuffing. Our guest is Frances Dewing, the CEO and co-founder of Rubica. They recently published a report on how crooks are accessing parents’ mobile devices via apps their kids load.
When we rush we make bad decisions.
Joe tracks the surprising number of malicious links hosted on legit websites and why it's dangerous. Dave describes an extortion scheme targeting podcasters. Our catch of the day involves a lonely Russian woman promoting a dating site. Dave interviews Gary Noesner, author of Stalling for Time: My Life as an FBI Hostage Negotiator.
Don't assume younger people get it.
Followup on last week's TLD discussion. Dave shares a sextortion scam with a tragic ending. Joe highlights conveyance scams that rely on certain days of the week. Our catch of the day features a wealthy Londoner hoping to pass on her fortune. Guest Dale Zabriskie from Proofpoint has results from their State of the Phish report.
Delivering yourself to a kidnapper.
Joe describes fraudsters taking advantage of top-level domain name confusion. Dave explains how a Google Nest security system shipped with an undocumented microphones. Our catch of the day involves a postcard missed package campaign. Our guest is Matt Devost from OODA LLC describing their work protecting high-net-worth individuals.
Stop and think before you click that link.
We've got followup from a listener on cognitive dissonance and behavioral science. Dave shares a listener story about a University Dean's List scam. Joe shares statistics from a government agency phishing test. Our catch of the day involves funds from the FBI, the IMF, and yes, Nigeria. Dave interviews Crane Hassold from Agari with phishing trends they've been tracking, plus his experiences as a former FBI agent.
The trauma is multifactored.
On this Valentines Day edition of Hacking Humans, Joe and Dave examine romance scams, including the sad tale of woman bilked out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. There's a silly, non-murdering catch of the day, and Dave interviews Max Kilger from UTSA on the six motivations of bad actors.
Make it seem like the real answer is impossible to know.
Dave shares a bank spoofing scam with a reminder to mind those links, especially on mobile devices. Joe describes a case of someone turning the tables on a Twitter scammer. Our catch of the day involves a clumsy claim of physical harm. Dave interviews author Dave Levitan about his book Not a Scientist: "How politicians mistake, misrepresent and utterly mangle science."
The excitement of tricking someone wears off quickly.
We've got followup on bank scams and ransomware. Joe describes a highly sophisticated multinational business scam. Dave shares a story about private school parents falling for a Bitcoin discount scam. Our guest is Jordan Harbinger, host of The Jordan Harbinger Show, with insights on influence and social engineering.
Opening your eyes to the reality in which we live.
Dave reviews tips on protecting yourself from ransomware. Joe describes a clever way to trick people into enabling macros. An attempt at celebrity friendship is our catch of the day. Carole Theriault returns and speaks with Dr. Jessica Barker from Cygenta about effective training techniques.
Prisoners have nothing but time.
Joe shares the tale of a prisoner running a variety of romance scams from the inside. Dave outlines direct deposit scams. The catch of the day is a clever variation from (where else?) Nigeria. Our guest is Sam Small from ZeroFox.
Trained humans are your strongest link.
Dave warns of scammers gaining access to homes by pretending to be workers from the local utility company. Joe shares a story of a sophisticated bank transfer scam in the UK. Our catch of the day outlines an attempted email scam targeting an architectural firm. Carole Theriault is back with the second part of her interview with the pen tester who goes by the name Freaky Clown.
At some point you're probably going to have to do some running.
Joe describes a reply-all scenario gone wrong. Dave explains the criminal use of steganography in memes as a command and control technique. Our catch-of-the-day features alluring photos texted to an unimpressed listener. Carole Theriault interviews physical pen tester Freaky Clown.
Truth emerges from the clash of ideas.
We follow up on critical feedback of last week's show. Dave describes how online extortionists have pivoted from sex to explosives. We've got an auto-responding catch of the day from one of Joe's colleagues. Guest is Sean Brooks, Director of the Citizen Clinic and a Research Fellow at the Center for Long-Term Cybersecurity at UC Berkeley. He shares their research into online attacks of politically vulnerable organizations.
A pesky problem that doesn't go away.
Joe describes a Nigerian gang called London Blue that focuses on business email compromise. Dave shares surprising Cyber Monday phishing statistics. Guest Chris Bailey from Entrust Datacard teaches us how to detect lookalike sites online and better protect ourselves from fraud.
Bringing trust to a trustless world.
Listener follow-up on a URL issue. Dave describes an elderly couple scammed out of savings. Joe wonders if it's wise to unsubscribe. Guest Andre McGregor from TLDR Capital describes his work as a former FBI agent, and his experience consulting on Mr. Robot.
Be very aware of your desire to be right.
Joe explains URLs and DNS. Dave has tips to prevent holiday skimming. A bogus bank barrister is the catch of the day. Writer Ben Yagoda explains cognitive biases.