Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Anatomy of a Horror Setting #11: Psychics and Social Engineering

There are two types of what is called social engineering that are similar but not as much as some would apparently like. One is considered real social engineering; the other is a pale comparison, supposedly. The "real one", defined by political science, involves the influencing of popular behaviour, like using propaganda. The other is just a fact of life where security scams are involved. It appears more that the security version is just a smaller scale, where only an individual need be influenced. The one sticking point of just considering them at different scales is that the security driven social engineers are about stealing information, whereas the political science version is about making change. They give different results, but at the same time they share similar methodologies.

Either kind of social engineering is certainly an avenue for a psychic to explore for their gain, whether that gain is for evil, selfish, or good reasons. A psychic might trigger spikes of change in behaviour and opinion on a scale that is temporary, or more long lasting, differentiated only by the level of subtlety and effort put into finding and affecting the right people. A psychic who wants to make people more accepting of him as a psychic might use hypnotic suggestion or empathic transmission to force an individual to treat the psychic as if he were normal. If there were people who were involved in a law making effort to afford certain rights to psychics he might manipulate the critics of that effort to change their attitude and support the effort.

The security style of social engineering is exemplified on the Internet. Phishing in particular stands out. A message that appears to be from a bank for instance says if the account isn't updated it will be closed. A provided link leads to a fake website requiring the account number and the password. The psychic phisher need only come into contact with someone. All they need to do is scam the subject into thinking about the desired information then they take it from the surface thoughts of the person. Also a psychic might enhance a regular scam further than a normal conman. Consider the trick where someone claims the person is entitled to an inheritance but must pay a transferral fee. The psychic can be assured the bait will be taken, and that the people not feel cheated later, either.

Mood: relieved.
Music: Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Queen and Burn by Apocalyptica.

Queen: Greatest Hits - We Will Rock You
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Apocalyptica: Worlds Collide

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