How Social Engineering Principles Can Transform Cybersecurity Savvy Into Powerful Interpersonal Skills
In part 1 of this two-part blog, I introduced the concept of human hacking as perfected by Chris Hadnagy. Chris is an expert in social engineering and computer hacking, and founder/CEO of Social-Engineer, LLC, which provides corporations with services and training to strengthen digital security. Founded in 2003, Social-Engineer leverages expertise in social engineering to focus on a human behavior approach to security rather than traditional approaches such as security penetration testing.
Chris is quick to point out that, while "hacking" often has negative connotations, it also can refer to those shortcuts people often use to make life easier and better. With that in mind, he set out to re-envision the social engineering strategies used by cyber-criminals and transform them into a force for good. Chris outlines his approach in his 2021 book, Human Hacking: Win Friends, Influence People, and Leave Them Better Off for Having Met You. He describes how people can gain a better understanding of themselves, particularly the communication behaviors, and use that self-awareness to establish stronger rapport and enhance relationships in all aspects of life.
Chris also established the Human Hacking Conference, which will be held virtually this year from March 11 to 13, 2021. It features a number of experts from various backgrounds and promises that attendees can learn a number of skills. These include (among others) how body language can make your life better, how you can both understand and motivate others better, and how to hack yourself to become a better communicator, employee, spouse and person.
I'm looking forward to the conference and asked Chris to share some additional insight about the conference with me. See the previous blog post for his take on three of this years' conference sessions. I also asked which trainer he is most excited about presenting this year. His response:
"Mark Bowden was a surprise attendee at our conference last year and we are thrilled to have him presenting this year. His expertise in using body language to create trust guarantees an amazing opportunity to attendees to learn from the best."
Bowden's session is titled "The Body Language of Trust & Credibility for nonverbal influence and persuasion." I also asked Chris how human hacking is different from other approaches to developing interpersonal, communication and influencing skills.
"Human hacking specifically addresses the science behind why people think and feel the way they do, thereby helping to understand how to avoid or elicit a specific reaction."
I was curious about Chris' approach to the negatives associated with hacking and social engineering. The conference website makes it clear that human hacking can be used for good or evil. I asked how the ethical aspects will be addressed in the conference.
"It is a through line of our conference. Our motto and creed are to always leave people better for having met you. One of the main goals of our conference is to help people understand each other, communicate better, and be better people! Our trainers provide those skills without relying on manipulation or deception."
Finally, I asked Chris about the potential impact of the conference, and what thoughts and feelings he hoped attendees would come away with.
"We always want to leave people better for having met us. We also want attendees to feel excited to use what they’ve learned in both their professional and personal lives. No matter their background, career, age, or culture, we want the conference to be a positive experience that they look forward to attending year after year."
It isn't often that cybersecurity knowledge and techniques are applied to interpersonal self-improvement, but it is a remarkable idea. More information about Chris' book is at the link above, and more information about the conference, including registration, is available from https://www.humanhackingconference.com.