Undermining: social engineering using open source intelligence gathering

Leslie Ball, Gavin Ewan, Natalie Coull

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

    11 Citations (Scopus)
    777 Downloads (Pure)


    Digital deposits are undergoing exponential growth. These may in turn be exploited to support cyber security initiatives through open source intelligence gathering. Open source intelligence itself is a doubleedged sword as the data may be harnessed not only by intelligence services to counter cyber-crime and terrorist activity but also by the perpetrator of criminal activity who use them to socially engineer online activity and undermine their victims. Our preliminary case study shows how the security of any company can be surreptitiously compromised by covertly gathering the open source personal data of the company’s employees and exploiting these in a cyber attack. Our method uses tools that can search, drill down and visualise open source intelligence structurally. It then exploits these data to organise creative spear phishing attacks on the unsuspecting victims who unknowingly activate the malware necessary to compromise the company’s computer systems. The entire process is the covert and virtual equivalent of overtly stealing someone’s password ‘over the shoulder’. A more sophisticated development of this case study will provide a seamless sequence of interoperable computing processes from the initial gathering of employee names to the successful penetration of security measures.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationProceedings of the International Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Information Retrieval
    EditorsAna Fred, Joaquim Filipe
    PublisherScitepress Digital Library
    Number of pages6
    Volume1: KDIR
    ISBN (Print)9789898565297
    Publication statusPublished - 2012
    Event4th International Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Information Retrieval - Barcelona, Spain
    Duration: 4 Oct 20127 Oct 2012


    Conference4th International Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Information Retrieval
    Abbreviated titleKDIR 2012


    • Social engineering
    • Cognitive hacking
    • Open source intelligence
    • Phishing
    • Data Mining
    • Visualisation


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