Category Archives: Social Engineering

Social Engineering Expert Frank Abagnale Jr. Speaks on Identity Theft

Frank Abagnale Jr. spoke in Omaha, Nebraska, at the Jewish Comunity Center on 11

This was the first time Mr. Abagnale addressed an audience of consumers. Normally, he addresses business leaders and others. He began by first visiting the overflow room and then
speaking at the auditorium where he was joined by Nebraska Attorney General Doug Petersen and BBB President Jim Hegarty.

Mr. Abagnale began his presentation by telling us part of his life’s story. He was in school one day, oblivious of what was to come, and taken out by one of the religous brothers from the school. Then he was whisked away to the courthouse with no information on what was to come on the ride over. At the courthouse, he met with a judge who told him, to his surprise, that his parents were getting divorced and that he had to choose which parent to live with. He could not choose so he fled and did not return.

After this, he took different odd jobs, but they would not pay him much or fairly because he was a child, even though his work was good. Unable to support himself in this manner, he altered his ID to make himself older. With mature looks and mannerisms to match, he easily passed as an adult. This was the start down the slippery slope of which he later found himself able to forge credentials and social engineer his way to get fraudulent checks cashed and get free air travel by posing as an airline pilot.

Mr. Abagnale’s exploits have been turned into a Broadway musical and a movie, Catch Me if You
Can, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks.

Social engineering uses different social persuasive skills and sometimes forged
items, props, and identities with the purpose of theft or getting access to higher targets. It is generally the method in which most hackers are able to gain access to sensitive areas. No matter how you harden your systems or what security protocols you put in place, it can all be undone with one human mistake to download or give private information to another that someone believes is trustworthy or authorized to have the information.

Also present and speaking were Nebraska State Attorney General Doug Petersen and BBB President Jim Hegarty. Both were also present in a panel to answer questions from the audience.