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In my ‘Social Engineering – The Detective Perspective’ talk, I speak about the importance of looking the part. What do I mean by that? Why do you trust a new doctor that you haven’t met before? It’s because they have the trappings of being a legitimate doctor. They have a place of business, a degree hanging on the wall, a website, front office staff, other patients, office equipment, drawers of files, expensive medical equipment, et al. Is it possible they are a con artist pulling an expensive and elaborate scam just to check your blood pressure? Sure, but it’s highly unlikely. Did you actually verify their degree and license to practice before sitting in their office? Probably not, we took their word for it. Should we do that? Maybe; it wouldn’t be the first time someone has practiced without a license. The reality is that most people trust others that look the part.

When you interact with a person who says they are a doctor, your have certain expectations of how that person should dress, speak, act, and what trappings they have around them. These expectations come from your previous interactions with doctors, TV, YouTube, Movies, and from friends. Think about the last time you visited a new doctor’s office. Generally the first person that comes into your room to check your vital signs is a technical assistant or maybe a nurse. Think about how they dress, speak, and act verses how the doctor does these things. Last year I took one of my kids to a Pediatrician and the first person that came in took their vitals. Based on my previous experiences and the way this person dressed, spoke, and acted, I assumed they were an experienced nurse. It turned out that it was in fact the Pediatrician dressed in scrubs. Their technical assistant was out that day so they had to pull double duty. This Pediatrician had subverted my initial expectations.

Think about the various people you interact with on a daily basis and how they dress, speak, and act. In your mind, what are your expectations of a Dominos Pizza delivery driver and how does that compare to a local pizza delivery driver? If you ordered a pizza from a local company and a Dominos driver showed up at your door, what would you be thinking? Would you even notice? If you were busy when they arrived at your door you would probably be less likely to notice anything was wrong but I’ll cover that in a different post. If you are trying to get past someone’s defenses unnoticed, it would likely be a good idea to meet their expectations of what they expect to see. Perhaps that means that means you dress like a normal employee of a company if you are trying to get past security at a corporate building. If you are trying to grab that security guard’s attention, perhaps you should subvert their expectations of who walks by them and dress like a clown holding balloons so your partner can sneak by.

The takeaway here is to observe how people dress, speak, and act, and compare that to your expectations. If you see things are out of place (you notice red flags) then investigate further. More on this next time.