You Can Learn a lot about Social Engineering from a Repo Man

The most vulnerable part of any secure information system is the human at the controls. Secure passwords, strong encryption, and stringent protocols are all worthless if that human can be coerced to give away the keys to the kingdom. The techniques of attacking a system through the human are collectively known as social engineering. While most of us don’t use social engineering in our day-to-day jobs, anyone can fall victim to it, so it’s always good to see this stuff in action. Some of the best examples of social engineering come from unlikely places. One of those is [Matthew Pitman].

reponinja[Matt] is one of those people we all hope we never to meet in real life. He’s a repo man. For those not familiar with the term, [Matt] is the guy who comes to pick up your car, boat or other asset when you fall behind on your loan payments. Generally, these repossession agents are contractors, working for the bank or loan agency who holds the loan on the collateral. As you might expect, no one is happy to see them coming.

[Matt] uses plenty of high-tech gadgetry in his line of work, everything from GPS tracking devices to drones. He calls his tow truck the Repo Ninja, and the interior is decked out with an internet connection, laptop, and tons of cameras. Even so, his greatest asset is social engineering. His 26 years of experience have taught him how to work people to get what he needs: their cars.

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IOU management for roommate chores

[Chris] shares a dorm room with five other people. When living with others its important to stay on top of cleaning and to do so equitably the sextuplet came up with a well-planned whiteboard of chores. The problem lies in getting everyone to do theirs in a timely manner. To help facilitate this, [Chris] came up with a system that lets roommates swap chores, giving each other IOU’s for future duties.

The system uses an Arduino board along with an RTC chip for precise timekeeping. The user interface is made up of a graphic LCD and a keypad with everything mounted inside of a cardboard box. [Chris] shows off his system in the video after the break, spending the majority of time on the debt system. The roommates have a pot of money for group groceries and this system will let you know where everyone stands. But according to his written description this also stores the calendar of chores that need to get done, and will let you trade with one another to fit your personal schedule.

So now the issue is getting everyone to use the system. But we don’t think that’s going to be too tough since all six of them are computer scientists.

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