Hackers are con artists: The perils of social engineering

Portrayals of hackers in popular culture are inaccurate. We imagine individuals bent over computers, rapidly typing in a mortal battle with opposing hackers. The struggle goes back and forth, until finally, one side wins — breaching their opponent’s encryption, downloading terabytes of secrets, and stealing away triumphant. This might make for good television, but it’s also far-removed from real hacking. As dramatic as it might be to force your way past security and into enemy lairs, the best hacks are the most subtle ones. Humans, not computers, are usually the weakest link. More often than not, hacking is a con…

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