Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Social Engineering 101

Social Engineering 101
By Andrew C. Hopkinson

“On Aug. 17, 2004, security officials at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) started receiving reports of a spree of thefts at agency headquarters in White Flint, Md. About $800 had gone missing in the space of a few hours and it looked like an outside job. Report No. 08-21 described a typical encounter with the unknown suspect. Now you might ask how could someone enter such a secure facility and steal in our post 9/11 world. Enter Ameenah Franks a 19 Y/O young woman with straight black hair that hung past her shoulders. Her excuses were often flimsy inventions, but people don’t like confrontations. They feel they’ve done enough if they ask a question and get an answer. Elsewhere around D.C., at other highly secure federal buildings, similar thefts were causing frustration among security officers. There were reports of missing cash and electronics at the Federal Aviation Administration, the Department of the Treasury, and the Government Accountability Office. The suspect had a keen uncanny sense for the weaknesses of office dwellers, even in government offices where employees should know better. These complexes are not a tourist destination, as armed guards will inform you. Visitors need to have verifiable business in the building and must provide photo ID. Bags get scanned, people get the metal detector. Employees must show a badge with their photo and job title”. So how did she get in? “Social Engineering 101”, she would stand outside a facility, sometimes where smokers congregate and strike up idle chat. She would get a name, or department and when they employee’s of the building were going in she would follow as they held the door for her. Once inside she would say she was going to meet so and so in the HR department or whatever info she had engineered and off she went. A simple knock on an unlocked closed door would grant her access to an office if no one inside confronted her and if they did she would simply apologize for the intrusion and move on. If no one was in the office she would enter, where more information was and small items she could steal to re-sell or a pocketbook with petty cash. One example I use in teaching security guards is; Approaching and striking up idle chat about the weather, economy etc… then asking if they always work the day shift because I have a night job and miss working days. The questions are simple and leading often setting up additional leading questions such as; I guess you work alone during the day? A simple reply often is no there are four of us during the day, but only 2 at night, that’s why I don’t like working nights. What have I accomplished in several minutes? I now know their security posture in a 24 hour period. So now you are asking yourself what does this have to do with self defense? In a world full of predators we don’t often look at the identity thief or social engineer as a predator. When in fact they are now at the top of the food chain, take for instance online sexual predators who often engineer information from unsuspecting children and teens. Now do you see where I am going with this? We need to educate our children and family members to be aware of social engineering techniques, whether by telephone, internet or in person. I can ascertain names, ages, schools and locations just by sitting across from a group of teens at the mall. What would a sexual predator do with the same information? Would he follow one out of the mall and use this information to lure the unsuspecting child into his vehicle, or close enough for abduction? Just because someone knows your name or the name of your parents or what school you go to, does not make them a friend! In this age of abundant instant information, it is imperative we educate not only our children and family members but ourselves. If someone you do not know is asking a personal question that is a RED FLAG! Remember most people avoid confrontations, if you feel uncomfortable, it is your sub-conscious mind doing its job of protecting you and you had better listen loud and clear! Remember your safety and the safety of your loved ones begins and ends with you!

Stay safe,
Andrew

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

US Law Enforcement at War as Zeta militants control US Border, target police, and fuel illegal immigration!

A renegade band of Mexican military deserters, offering $50,000 bounties for the assassination of U.S. law-enforcement officers, has expanded its base of operations into the United States to protect loads of cocaine and marijuana being brought into America by Mexican smugglers, authorities said....

Gangs, crimes, security, border, Bush, Congress, drugs, laws

By Jerry Seper
THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The deserters, known as the "Zetas," trained in the United States as an elite force of anti-drug commandos, but have since signed on as mercenaries for Mexican narcotics traffickers and have recruited an army of followers, many of whom are believed to be operating in Texas, Arizona, California and Florida.

Working mainly for the Gulf Cartel, one of Mexico's most dangerous drug-trafficking organizations, as many as 200 Zeta members are thought to be involved, including former Mexican federal, state and local police. They are suspected in more than 90 deaths of rival gang members and others, including police officers, in the past two years in a violent drug war to control U.S. smuggling routes.

The organization's hub, law-enforcement authorities said, is Nuevo Laredo, a border city of 300,000 across from Laredo, Texas. It is the most active port-of-entry along the U.S.-Mexico border, with more than 6,000 trucks crossing daily into Texas, carrying about 40 percent of Mexico's total exports.

Authorities said the Zetas control the city despite efforts by Mexican President Vicente Fox to restore order. He sent hundreds of Mexican troops and federal agents to the city in March to set up highway checkpoints and conduct raids on suspected Zeta locations.

Despite the presence of law enforcement, more than 100 killings have occurred in the city since Jan. 1, including that of former Police Chief Alejandro Dominguez, 52, gunned down June 8, just seven hours after he was sworn in. The city's new chief, Omar Pimentel, 37, escaped death during a drive-by shooting on his first day, although one of his bodyguards was killed.

Authorities said the Zetas operate over a wide area of the U.S.-Mexico border and are suspected in at least three drug-related slayings in the Dallas area. They said as many as 10 Zeta members are operating inside Texas as Gulf Cartel assassins, seeking to protect nearly $10 million in daily drug transactions.

In March, the Justice Department said the Zetas were involved "in multiple assaults and are believed to have hired criminal gangs" in the Dallas area for contract killings. The department said the organization was spreading from Texas to California and Florida and was establishing drug-trafficking routes it was willing to protect "at any cost."

Just last month, the department issued a new warning to law-enforcement authorities in Arizona and California, urging them to be on the lookout for Zeta members. An intelligence bulletin said a search for new drug-smuggling routes in the two states by the organization could bring new violence to the areas.

The number of assaults on U.S. Border Patrol agents along the 260 miles of U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona known as the Tucson sector has increased dramatically this year, including a May 30 shooting near Nogales, Ariz., in which two agents were seriously wounded during an ambush a mile north of the border.

Their assailants were dressed in black commando-type clothing, used high-powered weapons and hand-held radios to point out the agents' location, and withdrew from the area using military-style cover and concealment tactics to escape back into Mexico.

Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada in Nogales said his investigators found commando clothing, food, water and other "sophisticated equipment" at the ambush site.

Since Oct. 1, the start of the fiscal year, there have been 196 assaults on Border Patrol agents in the Tucson sector, including 24 shootings. During the same period last year, 92 assaults were reported, with five shootings. The sector is the busiest alien- and drug-trafficking corridor in the country.

U.S. intelligence officials have described the Zetas as an expanding gang of mercenaries with intimate knowledge of Mexican drug-trafficking methods and routes. Strategic Forecasting Inc., a security consulting firm that often works with the State and Defense departments, said in a recent report the Zetas had maintained "connections to the Mexican law-enforcement establishment" to gain unfettered access throughout the southern border.

Many of the Zeta leaders belonged to an elite anti-drug paratroop and intelligence battalion known as the Special Air Mobile Force Group, who deserted in 1991 and aligned themselves with drug traffickers.

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