Hacking Humans Goes to the Movies 9.18.22
Ep 10 | 9.18.22

It pays to do your research.



Melanie Griffith: (As Tess McGill) Am I right, or am I right? 

Philip Bosco: (As Oren Trask) I think you're right. 

Melanie Griffith: (As Tess McGill) You're damn straight I'm right. 

Dave Bittner: Hello, everyone, and welcome to a special edition of the "Hacking Humans" podcast, an occasional series we call Hacking Humans Goes to the Movies. I'm Dave Bittner from the CyberWire. And joining me is my "Hacking Humans" co-host, Joe Carrigan from the Johns Hopkins University Information Security Institute. Hello, Joe. 

Joe Carrigan: Hi, Dave. 

Dave Bittner: On this show, Joe and I look at clips from some of our favorite movies, clips which demonstrate some of the scams and schemes we talk about on "Hacking Humans." Joining the fun this week is our very special guest, Tracy Maleeff. She is from Krebs Stamos Group. You may know her on Twitter as @InfoSecCherpa. I've had the pleasure of knowing Tracy for a few years now, and I am very excited to have you on the show, Tracy. Thanks for joining us. 

Tracy Maleeff: It's an honor to be here, and I'm thrilled that you asked me. Thanks so much. 

Dave Bittner: All right. We've got some fun clips to share, so stay tuned. We will be right back after this message from our show's sponsor. 

Dave Bittner: All right. Let's jump into our clips here. And Tracy, we're going to put you right on the hot seat here... 


Dave Bittner: ...And have you start things off for us. What is your movie this week? 

Tracy Maleeff: My movie is "Working Girl." It is a 1988 film starring Melanie Griffith, Harrison Ford, Sigourney Weaver. It's directed by Mike Nichols. I think there's just so many layers to this film. And it only occurred to me recently, within the past few years, of how much there are infosec ideas and principles as a part of this. I don't think it was intended that way, I think it was more supposed to be, you know, a look at, like, big business in America and cutthroat Wall Street and things like that. But if you watch it - and actually, the two clips that I picked out, I think you'll see - there's a lot of infosec ideas and principles in here that I think we can learn from. And I just - and also, I just think it's a great film. 

Dave Bittner: Yeah. I remember this film. I did see it in the movie theater when it came out. And, you know, this was when I think pretty much everybody in this film were at the height of their powers when this movie came out, right? You got Harrison Ford and Melanie Griffith, and Joan Cusack is in this film - lots of Oscar... 

Tracy Maleeff: Alec - yeah. 

Dave Bittner: ...Nominations. 

Tracy Maleeff: Alec Baldwin's in it. 

Dave Bittner: Yeah. 

Tracy Maleeff: Kevin Spacey's in it, Olympia Dukakis. 

Dave Bittner: Yeah. 

Tracy Maleeff: Yeah. It's - yeah. It's - there's a lot of big names in it. And one thing I thought of this morning that I didn't want to forget to mention is the - also the interesting dynamic about this film - now, I could be wrong, so I'm just going to kind of throw this out there. I think this may have been one of the first films to show the dynamic of a female boss, a woman boss with a woman subordinate, specifically a woman subordinate that she - sorry, spoiler alert if you haven't seen this movie... 


Tracy Maleeff: ...Tried to, you know, manipulate and take credit for work and etc. 

Joe Carrigan: It's been over 30 years. If people haven't... 

Tracy Maleeff: I know. 

Joe Carrigan: ...Seen the movie now... 

Tracy Maleeff: ...I was going to say, if you haven't seen by now... 

Joe Carrigan: ...That's on them. 

Tracy Maleeff: Yeah, exactly. 


Tracy Maleeff: I just - yeah - felt like the - you know, the obligatory spoiler alert warning. 

Dave Bittner: Yeah. 

Joe Carrigan: Right. 

Tracy Maleeff: But, yeah, I was thinking about that this morning, that whole dynamic of, you know, a woman boss with a woman subordinate. And I think this movie would have been very different if it was a man boss, to be honest. 

Dave Bittner: Yeah. 

Tracy Maleeff: I think that, for some people, was maybe some of the surprise of, oh, a woman is taking credit for another woman's work. Yes, that happens (laughter). 

Dave Bittner: Right. Gee, yeah. Imagine that. Yeah. 

Joe Carrigan: This is the first movie that I saw - and I'm a big fan of Sigourney Weaver. I've loved her since I was - what? - 11 year - or 9 or 10 years old - saw her in "Alien" - and was, like, a fan of hers ever since. I thought that was probably one of the - that's probably one of the formative movies of my youth, is... 

Dave Bittner: Yeah. 

Joe Carrigan: ..."Alien." It's great movie. And when I saw this movie, I was like, this is the first time I've seen her being a bad guy, playing the villain. So, you know, I have a lot of respect for her playing the breadth of characters. That's one of the things I look for in an actor and how I judge their quality, is the breadth of characters they portray. 

Dave Bittner: Yeah. All right. Well, before we dig into our first clip here, Tracy, is there anything that we should know about the film to set this up? 

Tracy Maleeff: OK, so this first clip that I'm going to show you - and I wanted to explain that the order of these clips is out of order how they appear in the film. But I'm doing this intentionally because I feel like the second clip that I want to play is lacking some background information. And I feel like this later clip explains it. So this is basically all about how OSINT and research and having information management, knowledge management, and thinking strategically can be very useful not only for mergers and acquisitions in the film, but for information security as well. So that should be a good setup for this. 

Dave Bittner: All right. 


Harrison Ford: (As Jack Trainer) Not without her. 

Sigourney Weaver: (As Katharine Parker) Jack. 

Philip Bosco: (As Oren Trask) Trainer, are you trying to blow this deal? 

Harrison Ford: (As Jack Trainer) No, sir. I'm trying to make sure that it gets done right. Tess is this team's leader. She put this deal together. We shouldn't proceed without her. 

Philip Bosco: (As Oren Trask) And you shouldn't go letting your Johnson make business decisions for you. 

Harrison Ford: (As Jack Trainer) I'm not, sir. I'm telling you, she's your man. 

Philip Bosco: (As Oren Trask) Oh, and what brings you to that conclusion? 

Harrison Ford: (As Jack Trainer) She said so, and I believe her. 

Philip Bosco: (As Oren Trask) I'm afraid that's not good enough. Now, are you with us or not? 

Harrison Ford: (As Jack Trainer) No. 

Sigourney Weaver: (As Katharine Parker) Jack, I forgive you. Now, get on this elevator. 

Harrison Ford: (As Jack Trainer) Sorry, Katharine. 

Sigourney Weaver: (As Katharine Parker) You'll be sorry, Jack. 

Melanie Griffith: (As Tess McGill) Ask him to tell you about the hole in your deal. 

Philip Bosco: (As Oren Trask) What hole? 

Sigourney Weaver: (As Katharine Parker) Oren, he's just playing games again. Let's get going. 

Melanie Griffith: (As Tess McGill) Fine, go. 

Philip Bosco: (As Oren Trask) No. What hole? 

Melanie Griffith: (As Tess McGill) Look. 

Sigourney Weaver: (As Katharine Parker) The People Page? Now, this is ridiculous. 

Unidentified Person #1: (As messenger) Come on, you guys. 

Sigourney Weaver: (As Katharine Parker) Former Miss America Dawn Bixby's been house hunting here. Seems Dawn and hot, hot, hot deejay hubby, Slim Slicker, are getting ready to take a bite out of the Big Apple. 

Philip Bosco: (As Oren Trask) Slim Slicker? 

Sigourney Weaver: (As Katharine Parker) So? 

Harrison Ford: (As Jack Trainer) Slim Slicker's one of Metro's major assets - syndicated to all their stations, No. 1 in his slot, the cornerstone of their programming. 

Melanie Griffith: (As Tess McGill) You lose him and Metro's just some OK real estate with falling ratings. And you're not exactly buying it for a write-off. 

Harrison Ford: (As Jack Trainer) Better make sure he's locked in before they sign anything. 

Sigourney Weaver: (As Katharine Parker) Oren, I have this covered. Upstairs. Shall we? 

Unidentified Person #1: (As messenger) Yes. 

Sigourney Weaver: (As Katharine Parker) Oren. 

Harrison Ford: (As Jack Trainer) Hear the lady out, sir. There's another elevator. 


Unidentified Person #2: Yeah, baby. Always have your source material. Don't be afraid to connect the dots. 


Melanie Griffith: (As Tess McGill) OK. See, this is Forbes. It's just your basic article about how you were looking to expand into broadcasting, right? OK, now, the same day - I'll never forget this - I'm reading Page 6 of the Post, and there's this item on Bobby Stein, the radio talk show guy who does all those gross jokes about Ethiopia and the Betty Ford Center. Well, anyway, he's hosting this charity auction that night - real blue bloods, and won't that be funny? Now turn the page to Suzy, who does the society stuff, and there's this picture of your daughter. See, nice picture. And she's helping to organize the charity ball. So I started to think, Trask... 

Philip Bosco: (As Oren Trask) Radio. 

Tracy Maleeff: OK, so sorry for that clip with the commentary, but honestly, I thought that this guy was proving my point, so that's why I sent this clip. So what I - why I captured this clip from the film is - I mean, this is OSINT, right? This is research. And I like that this character was able to extract valuable information and turn it into intelligence based on gossip columns and society columns and cross-referenced it with business news. And, I mean, that's absolutely 100% real. When I was a law firm librarian, that's the kind of stuff that I'd have to do as well when sometimes the attorneys would want to connect two individuals for some reason. They would give me the names of two different people, and it was my job to try and connect them. And that's the kind of information you need to dig up. 

Tracy Maleeff: So I feel like this is a really good example of not only using OSINT, but using the intelligence-gathering process. You know, how to make intelligence out of data. So, sure, a single column about a former Miss America and, you know, a shock jock deejay house hunting, you know, may not have any significance on its own. But as she pointed - as the character pointed out, OK, well, this is how it fits into this business decision and things like that. So I just think that this is a... 

Dave Bittner: Right. 

Joe Carrigan: Right. Yeah. 

Tracy Maleeff: ...Really great way to explain that. 

Rick Howard: One of the things that every single intelligence agency in - every country has their intelligence agency. They all have an army of people that read newspapers or the equivalent of them now, but that's what they would do. Their job was read the newspaper and put things together. 

Dave Bittner: Yeah, connecting those dots. 

Rick Howard: Right. 

Dave Bittner: And in this case, in the movie, she sort of proves her worth to these folks who are getting ready to do this big business deal, to demonstrate that they overlooked something. And her ability to connect the dots is going to make all the difference in the world. 

Tracy Maleeff: Exactly. And the other point I wanted to make, too, is the Harrison Ford character, Jack, in this, was really an ally and an advocate to Tess, the Melanie Griffith character. And that's - you know, I talked before the clip about the significance of Sigourney Weaver being a woman boss in the situation. But this is also significant that, you know, again, this kind of goes against a lot of the stereotypes we see, or real life where, you know, oh, a man couldn't possibly advocate or be an ally for a woman in business. But he was and, you know, he stood by his convictions, and did - you know, and stood by her. And that's also what we need more of in InfoSec are - you know, just especially, you know, if it's a man who may be listened to more than a woman, but to have those male allies is very crucial. So again, this movie is just filled with all kinds of really good lessons and sociological aspects and stuff. So it's just - I really think it's just underrated as far as it goes for these topics. I think a lot of people just respect it as a good entertainment piece. But I think it's really a lot deeper than that. 

Dave Bittner: Well, let's set up the second clip you have here for us. What do we need to know before we look at this one? 

Tracy Maleeff: Sure. Now, this is a really good example of social engineering. So Tess and Jack basically social engineer their way into the wedding of the executive who, in the previous scene, she was explaining all the connections to. And the reason why I showed the second scene first is because that's - this is all the information she has been gathering. And that was her proof. So what they needed to do was they needed to get to the head of this Trask Company directly. And that's when they decided to take matters in their own hands and crash the wedding. So it's just some social engineering, you know, techniques and also maybe a bit of physical security, you know, how they got in and all. But again, the intel that they found of where the wedding was and whatnot was in the society pages and all that. So this is really just the execution of the plan of how to get directly to the Trask gentlemen, the head of the company. 

Dave Bittner: All right. Here's the scene. 


Barbara Garrick: (As Phyllis) Who are you? 

Melanie Griffith: (As Tess) I'm Tess. I'm a friend of Mark's. And I'm just so happy that I could be here for you today. 

Harrison Ford: (As Jack) Glorious. Fabulous. Stunning, really. So eloquent. 

Melanie Griffith: (As Tess) You're right. This is crazy, so let's just go. 

Harrison Ford: (As Jack) Excuse me. The woman that's dancing with Oren, what's her name? 

Ricki Lake: (As Bridesmaid) Oh, Elizabeth Stubblefield? 

Harrison Ford: (As Jack) That's right. Liz? Beth? 

Ricki Lake: (As Bridesmaid) Bitsy. 

Harrison Ford: (As Jack) Bitsy. That's right. 

Melanie Griffith: (As Tess) Jack. 

Harrison Ford: (As Jack) You want to do it? Do it. Excuse us. Bitsy, don't break my heart and tell me you don't remember me. 

Marceline Hugot: (As Bitsy) Of course, I do. 

Harrison Ford: (As Jack) Excuse us. 

Marceline Hugot: (As Tess) Talk about a small world, huh? I mean, here we've just met. And yet, I feel as though I've spent so much time working with you, in a way. I'm in mergers and acquisitions at Petty Marsh. 

Philip Bosco: (As Oren) Oh. Well, I really wish you were having more luck with your team. 

Melanie Griffith: (As Tess) So do I. So do I. I've been trying to set you up with a radio network. But my boss says they think that you're just stuck on acquiring television and won't even listen. 

Philip Bosco: (As Oren) Well, that's not true. 

Melanie Griffith: (As Tess) Well, that's what I said. I said that the man who in 1971 looked into the future and saw that it was named microwave technology, the man who applied Japanese management principles while the others were still kowtowing to the unions, the man who saw the Ma Bell breakup coming from miles away, I mean, this man did not get to be this man - you, I mean - by shutting himself off to new ideas. Am I right or am I right? 

Philip Bosco: (As Oren) I think you're right. 

Melanie Griffith: (As Tess) You're damn straight I'm right. 

Philip Bosco: (As Oren) If you've got the right property, I'd love to hear about it. 

Melanie Griffith: (As Tess) You would? 

Philip Bosco: (As Oren) Well, absolutely. 

Etai O’Malley: (As character) There she is. 

Melanie Griffith: (As Tess) You know, I really - I just realized that I'm hogging the father of the bride. And I see Phyllis coming in. Well, what do you say that I give you a call on Monday? 

Philip Bosco: (As Oren) Well, our media consultant is Tim Draper. 

Melanie Griffith: (As Tess) Tim, right. 

Harrison Ford: (As Jack) Honey, I'm starved. 

Marceline Hugot: (As Tess) So am I. Bye. 

Philip Bosco: (As Oren) Bye. 

Harrison Ford: (As Jack) Bye. 

Dave Bittner: All right. 

Tracy Maleeff: Yeah. So hopefully you understand why I played them out of order as they appear, because I wanted to demonstrate that she had all of this hard knowledge, because she was showing in the clip the actual newspapers and magazines. And then in this clip, not only was the social engineering on display with Jack asking the other bridesmaid not only her name, but the real savvy extra move of, you know, what does she go by? Because if he had just called her Elizabeth, then that would have tipped off the woman that, you know, he doesn't really know her. But by calling her Bitsy... 

Dave Bittner: Right. 

Joe Carrigan: Right. 

Tracy Maleeff: ...Created that sense of familiarity. And then also, if you haven't seen this movie, this is where Tess is still pretending to be the one in charge, you know, as far as Mr. Trask is concerned. But again, all that she rattled off there, that - again, that was research that she did... 

Dave Bittner: Right. Right. 

Tracy Maleeff: ...And putting things together. So I just - I really like this movie for the OSINT and the research and the intelligence cycle. And it's just - has a lot of great quotes and clips in it. But this just really drives home the point to me of, you know, you need to do your research. You need to understand, you know, the person you're - or the threat actor you're investigating, you know, whatever it is, and understanding the difference between data, knowledge and intelligence, you know? She could have had all of these individual pieces of data about him, but enabled - but able to thread it together to make intelligence, to understand his motivations, you know? She was really, you know, kind of manipulating him in a good way, buttering him up. 

Tracy Maleeff: Right. Right. Flattering him. 

Tracy Maleeff: Yeah, flattering him and all. But - and she was just using his own life, you know... 

Joe Carrigan: Right. 

Dave Bittner: Right. 

Tracy Maleeff: ...To do that, to really understand his motivations and all. So yeah, I just think those two scenes really piece together why I think this is a good infosec-related film. 

Dave Bittner: Yeah. It's a good movie. 

Joe Carrigan: It is. 

Dave Bittner: And also, just as, I think, a side note, it is very much a movie of its time. 

Joe Carrigan: Uh-huh. 

Tracy Maleeff: (Laughter). 

Dave Bittner: It is, you know, it is the late '80s, so there's lots of big hair and shoulder pads and (laughter), you know? 

Tracy Maleeff: It's glorious. It's glorious. 

Dave Bittner: (Laughter) it really is. 

Tracy Maleeff: Ahh. 

Dave Bittner: It really is. And, you know, I have a soft spot for Joan Cusack, who I think is good in everything she does. She got - there were many Oscar nominations out of this movie. She was nominated for best supporting actress along with Sigourney Weaver. 

Tracy Maleeff: Yeah. She really, really shined in this. And again, this also really shows what things were like for women in the mid-to-late '80s in business. Because the Joan Cusack character, for example, was pretty much content with being a secretary, which, again, there's nothing wrong with that. But, you know, Tess had ambition and she was, in some ways, ostracized from the other secretaries for having ambition. 

Dave Bittner: Right. 

Tracy Maleeff: And, you know, having worked in offices in the '90s, I can say that that didn't change too much. There was actually - there really was some sort of, like, hierarchy. 

Dave Bittner: Yeah. 

Tracy Maleeff: And I'm not saying that there weren't women - I worked for a - I won't say the name of it - but... 

Dave Bittner: (Laughter). 

Tracy Maleeff: ...I worked as a secretary for a management consulting firm in the early '90s. And there were definitely, you know, women in higher-level positions, not as - there's probably more now. But yeah, there definitely was a hierarchical class between the secretaries and other people. So yeah, this really rings true. I feel like they either had people who worked on Wall Street to talk to on this film, but they really got like the lower hierarchy of, you know, the lower tranche of it. 

Dave Bittner: Yeah. 

Tracy Maleeff: Well done. And also, for some younger folks watching this, all the scenes with the coffee, you know, asking like, how do you take your coffee and stuff like that, that was a thing... 

Dave Bittner: Oh. 

Tracy Maleeff: ...That secretaries had to do, was to, you know, fetch coffee for bosses. And I - so just as a quick side note is a funny story. When I was in high school, I did an internship in an office, a tourism office, but it was still, you know, an office. And I remember I found this postcard that I thought was really funny. And there's a famous coffeemaker brand called Mr. Coffee. Well, this was a postcard that was called Ms. Coffee. And the deal with Ms. Coffee is that they had a thought bubble above it and it said, make it yourself. 

Dave Bittner: (Laughter). 

Tracy Maleeff: And I got in trouble in the office for putting that up on my desk. 

Dave Bittner: Wow. 

Tracy Maleeff: Yes. 'Cause... 

Dave Bittner: Yeah. 

Tracy Maleeff: ...Yeah. 

Dave Bittner: Times change, right? 

Tracy Maleeff: 'Cause I was seen as a radical... 

Dave Bittner: Thank Goodness (laughter). 

Tracy Maleeff: Yeah. Putting that up was like - it was like, it's disrespectful. It's subordinate. It's radical, all this stuff and... 

Dave Bittner: Yeah. 

Tracy Maleeff: ...I was like, oh, boy. And that wasn't that long ago. 

Dave Bittner: No. 

Tracy Maleeff: That was '89 I think - yeah - was... 

Dave Bittner: Yeah. 

Tracy Maleeff: ...When that happened. Yeah. 

Dave Bittner: All right. Well, good clips from a good movie. Again, that's "Working Girl." Joe, what do you have for us this week? 

Joe Carrigan: Well, my clip is from a movie, nowhere near as good as "Working Girl." It's "Ocean's 8," which is starring Sandra Bullock and some other people. But the - this is a short clip, a really, really short one. And, actually, this clip has two scams in it. But we're just going to do the first one. Maybe I'll save the second one for next time. 

Dave Bittner: OK. 

Joe Carrigan: But this one is this - I thought this one was really, really clever. In this one, we're really going to focus on is pretext, which is the lie that people tell you to change your frame of reference. 

Dave Bittner: OK. 

Joe Carrigan: So why don't we begin with the clip? 

Dave Bittner: All right. 


Sandra Bullock: (As Debbie Ocean) Hi. I'd like to return these. 

Daniella Rabbani: (As character) Oh, of course. Do you have your receipt? 

Sandra Bullock: (As Debbie Ocean) No, but they're unopened. They haven't been touched. 

Daniella Rabbani: (As character) I really need your receipt. 

Sandra Bullock: (As Debbie Ocean) They are sealed. They are brand-new. 

Daniella Rabbani: (As character) Do you have the credit card that you used? 

Sandra Bullock: (As Debbie Ocean) This is ridiculous. I - I bought these last week. 

Daniella Rabbani: (As character) Maybe you can try client services on the sixth floor. 

Sandra Bullock: (As Debbie Ocean) You know what? Never mind. I'll just keep them. Jesus. Can at least get a bag? 

Daniella Rabbani: (As character) Sure. 

Sandra Bullock: (As Debbie Ocean) Thank you. 

Dave Bittner: Oh, wow. 

Joe Carrigan: (Laughter) So this is brilliant, I think, in that it's elegant. It is an absolutely elegant scam in that it's so simple how it works. She walks in. She acts like she's buying perfume or makeup or something and, you know, even grabs a sampler, sprays it in the air and, like, sniffs at it. Then she just takes a couple of items off the shelf and then tries - pretends like she's going to try to return them. 

Joe Carrigan: And that's not even what the objective is. She actually is going to steal these things, but she doesn't try to pocket them. She walks up and blatantly tries to return them. And when she knows that they won't cooperate with this because - I don't know - maybe she knows the policies, but when the woman says, well, you can't return without a receipt, you're going to have to go talk to client services, she says, well, can I at least get a bag? 

Dave Bittner: Right. 

Joe Carrigan: Right? And now she stuffs everything in a bag, and now she looks like she's purchased it. So if she walks out of here by security, nobody thinks twice. 

Dave Bittner: Yeah. Yeah. I suspect she would have been OK if they'd taken the return and given her cash... 

Joe Carrigan: Yeah. I'm sure she would have. 

Dave Bittner: ...As well (laughter). 

Joe Carrigan: That would have worked. It's a no-lose situation. 

Dave Bittner: Yeah. 

Joe Carrigan: Unless somebody sees you picking up the things off the shelf and then try to return them, then you probably lose big. 

Dave Bittner: Yeah. Tracy, what do you make of this? 

Tracy Maleeff: A lot of things, actually. Well, one is this is definitely from a point of privilege that I don't think a woman of color necessarily would have been able to get away with something like this in the real world. 

Joe Carrigan: That thought occurred to me as well. That's right. 

Tracy Maleeff: Yeah. That this is - and also the privileged part of just - of wealth. Like, it clearly was a wealthy store, so... 

Dave Bittner: Right. She looks the part. 

Joe Carrigan: She looks the part. Although she is actually - in the movie, she's not the part. She's not wealthy. 

Tracy Maleeff: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Yeah. So there's a couple different areas of privilege going on here that made all this possible, though it also occurred - it also seemed strange to me that the clerk gave up so easily. Now, I do understand why, though. I mean, because in these - in a place like that, it's probably, you know, the customer's always right. And they were probably - she was probably instructed not to put up a fuss. But having, you know, trying to do legitimate returns... 

Joe Carrigan: Right. 

Dave Bittner: (Laughter) Yes. Yes. 

Tracy Maleeff: ...In department stores, it has never been that smooth. So, I mean, I know it's a movie, but... 

Joe Carrigan: Right. 

Tracy Maleeff: ...I wish they would have maybe had a little bit of a fight put up. It was... 

Joe Carrigan: But her objective is not to get the return. Her objective is to walk out with the makeup, with the expensive hookup. 

Tracy Maleeff: Yeah. Yeah. See, because to me, I would have thought, well, like, why were you walking around with these things to return them? Like, you would have had a bag in the first place. 

Joe Carrigan: Right. You would have come in directly here and returned... 

Tracy Maleeff: Yeah. So like, I - again, like, I know it's a movie, and... 

Joe Carrigan: Right. 

Tracy Maleeff: I'm not trying to be a wet blanket, but yeah, part of me was like, yeah, this doesn't really seem... 

Joe Carrigan: But you've worked in retail, right? 

Tracy Maleeff: Yeah. I've worked in retail, and I've had to do legitimate returns before. And I'm like, it never goes like that. So it's a little bit of poetic license for that. 

Dave Bittner: Yeah. 

Joe Carrigan: Sure. 

Dave Bittner: One of the things I wonder is, you know, as she made her way around the store, there were several different clerks along the way. And I wonder, to what degree did she - was she deliberate in choosing this clerk to be the one to target with the checkout? Is - did she say, this looks like the new person or something like that? 

Tracy Maleeff: Yeah. Or someone younger or the furthest away from where she was so that the clerk couldn't see, you know, maybe how long she had been in the store or not been in the store. 

Dave Bittner: Yeah. 

Tracy Maleeff: Things like that. Yeah. It - also, I think it is a bad influence because I'm afraid it could give people ideas... 

Dave Bittner: (Laughter). 

Tracy Maleeff: ...To do this. So it kind of makes me nervous. And it makes me feel bad for... 

Joe Carrigan: This isn't working at Best Buy. 

Dave Bittner: Yeah. Yeah. 

Tracy Maleeff: Yeah. Like, it makes me feel bad for service workers because, you know, you know somebody saw this film and then tried to pull that. Yeah. So, I mean, I get it. It's social engineering. And that's what she... 

Joe Carrigan: That's what we do here. 

Tracy Maleeff: ...You know, she needed to do. Yeah, that's what it was done. So as far as the task goes of social engineering this high-end department store out of some makeup, then it was successful. But from a humanitarian perspective, it was kind of a crappy thing to do. And, you know, it just kind of makes me cringe. And yeah, it's - if, you know, if... 

Joe Carrigan: You don't listen to this show, do you? 

Dave Bittner: That's because you're a good person, Tracy. 

Joe Carrigan: Right. Yeah. Exactly. 


Joe Carrigan: We talk about stuff every week that makes me cringe. 

Dave Bittner: That's right. That's right. 

Joe Carrigan: And sometimes I just can't help myself going, hey, that's pretty clever. 

Dave Bittner: Yeah. But I think the point is a good one. I mean, I think to me, what makes this one work is that she walks into this place like she owns the place. 

Joe Carrigan: Right. 

Dave Bittner: She's not trying - she's not skulking around. She's not trying to distract or not have attention on her, right? 

Joe Carrigan: Right. 

Dave Bittner: She - and that is part of what makes it work, I think. 

Joe Carrigan: Yep. 

Dave Bittner: Yeah. All right. Well... 

Tracy Maleeff: And to compare - oh, sorry. Just to compare and contrast the two, I mean, the Melanie Griffith character was, in her way, also performing, you know, social engineering, and it would benefit her. Now, I don't know that it really would have benefited her from pay-wise because I don't think she had any financial stake in the merger and acquisition. So - because I know somebody could argue, well, they're both doing the same thing. They're both manipulating people. But in "Ocean's 8," it was clearly for her own personal benefit. It was more, you know, black hat-ish. 

Tracy Maleeff: You know, there was - and whereas the Melanie Griffith character, I would say was more like gray-white hat, because, you know, I don't think she stood to benefit necessarily financially from the merger and acquisition. Now, I know - again, spoiler alert - at the end, she did get a job out of it, like a higher-level job. But I don't think that - like, I just feel like it's a little bit different. I think Melanie Griffith was just trying to prove her worth and, you know, also do the right thing for this company, whereas the other thing was just purely selfish and whatnot. So I feel like that's where there's that, you know, really ethical gray line. 

Joe Carrigan: Well, "Ocean's 8" is a heist movie, so... 

Dave Bittner: Yeah. 

Tracy Maleeff: Yeah. Yeah. 

Dave Bittner: All right. Well, those are clips for this week. We want to thank all of you for coming along with us. We'll have links to all of those clips in the show notes. And of course, we want to thank Tracy Maleeff for joining us. 

Joe Carrigan: Thank you, Tracy. 

Tracy Maleeff: Thanks for having me. This was great. 

Dave Bittner: The "Hacking Humans" podcast is proudly produced in Maryland at the startup studios of DataTribe, where they're co-building the next generation of cybersecurity teams and technologies. Our senior producer is Jennifer Eiben. Our executive editor is Peter Kilpe. I'm Dave Bittner. 

Joe Carrigan: I'm Joe Carrigan. 

Tracy Maleeff: I'm Tracy Maleeff. 

Dave Bittner: Thanks for listening.