October 11, 2004

Great intro to social engineering - "Catch me if you can"

Now appearing on the not-ridiculously-priced racks at your local supermarket, the film "Catch me if you can" follows the life of a young fraudster in the 1960s. Frank Abagnale followed his heart if not his elders and developed strong techniques in how to engineer his way into many a closed shop.

Systems that he breached: medical practice, law, airline pilots, family. All systems that owed their security more to their marketing and belief systems than to good technology. Oh, yes, and he "kited" a lot of checks along the way, as the Americans would say.

What strikes is the successful integration of different techniques into a concerted attack. Yes Abagnale presented a fraudulent cheque or two. And yes, the system was pretty darn bad in those days. But it was the way he integrated his different social engineering approaches together that made the difference, not the single issue of credit or reliance on pieces of paper.

The film is well worth seeing for the financial cryptographer. It's integrated, balanced, and it includes little or no crypto. Just like the real world! Oh, and it's also a fun film for all the family, which makes it shareable with those who exercise patience in our lives.

Posted by iang at October 11, 2004 10:22 AM | TrackBack

And if you think that the 1960s time frame presented in the film is comfortably historical, think again. Fraud of this type is routine and current. Here's a great description of a current-day, cheque-related insider fraud:


Posted by: Iang at October 11, 2004 04:46 PM