Social Engineering as an Approach for Probing Organizations to Improve IT Security

Authors Daniël van Liempd, Arthur Sjouw, Matthijs Smakman, Koen Smit
Published in Proceedings - editors: Piet Kommers, Pascal Ravesteijn, Guido Ongena and Pedro Isaías
Publication date 11 April 2019
Research groups Digital Ethics
Type Lecture


From the article: This paper describes the external IT security analysis of an international corporate organization, containing a technical and a social perspective, resulting in a proposed repeatable approach and lessons learned for applying this approach. Part of the security analysis was the utilization of a social engineering experiment, as this could be used to discover employee related risks. This approach was based on multiple signals that indicated a low IT security awareness level among employees as well as the results of a preliminary technical analysis. To carry out the social engineering experiment, two techniques were used. The first technique was to send phishing emails to both the system administrators and other employees of the company. The second technique comprised the infiltration of the office itself to test the physical security, after which two probes were left behind. The social engineering experiment proved that general IT security awareness among employees was very low. The results allowed the research team to infiltrate the network and have the possibility to disable or hamper crucial processes. Social engineering experiments can play an important role in conducting security analyses, by showing security vulnerabilities and raising awareness within a company. Therefore, further research should focus on the standardization of social engineering experiments to be used in security analyses and further development of the approach itself. This paper provides a detailed description of the used methods and the reasoning behind them as a stepping stone for future research on this subject. van Liempd, D., Sjouw, A., Smakman, M., & Smit, K. (2019). Social Engineering As An Approach For Probing Organizations To Improve It Security: A Case Study At A Large International Firm In The Transport Industry. 119-126.

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Language English
Published in Proceedings - editors: Piet Kommers, Pascal Ravesteijn, Guido Ongena and Pedro Isaías
Key words Security, Social Engineering, Security awareness, Security analysis, Phishing
Page range 119-126

Matthijs Smakman