Jenny Radcliffe | Understanding the Power of Social Engineering

Jenny Radcliffe (@Jenny_Radcliffe) of Human Factor Security is an ethical social engineer hired to smash security measures using psychology, con-artistry, subliminal linguistics, cunning, and guile. She is also the host of award-winning podcast The Human Factor.

Having established a career in supply chain and procurement in industrial manufacturers, Jenny also trained staff in negotiation. At the same time she had a personal interest in how people were duped or manipulated into revealing confidential information or permitting access – known as social engineering. She was then approached by a bank to test their security – to see if she could talk her way in. It was the start of a new career exploring the human frailties in security systems. Since then she has ‘broken into’ over 650 locations, everything from building sites to the Tower of London, without ever picking a lock or faking a security pass.

As the value of data overtakes physical assets, in addition to the integrity of building security, Jenny’s work covers the digital domain. Malign actors are aware that attacking an organisation through technology is hard – much easier to ask a human the right questions. Jenny considers how such attacks work and what to look out for. She explains how routine is hacker’s best friend and highlights how even a private Facebook profile has enough information to lead, eventually, to someone’s job, and ultimately access to secure information.

Like ethical hackers in the digital world, Jenny exposes security flaws for the greater good – to highlight weaknesses, raise awareness, and enable fixes. She considers natural human instincts, and those enabled by organisational culture. She looks at the science of behaviour and questions our assumptions and the people we trust. She examines how to put security at the forefront without making systems and processes overly complex.

Jenny has worked with law enforcement and the military, financial services and politicians. As well as challenging the most observant gatekeepers she also trains people in non-verbal communications, and questioning and negotiation techniques. She’s worked with banks on the public awareness of fraud, and is a regular media commentator on security issues. Jenny also lectures at the University of Liverpool and is the host of the popular The Human Factor podcast.

Alongside the serious security lessons Jenny also recounts entertaining tales from testing systems designed to be impenetrable. She also explains her personal story, graduating from a childhood mischievously breaking into abandoned properties to entering high-security infrastructure projects with military guards. She also tells audiences whether someone’s honest or not (and dispels some of the popular myths of body language).

Check out Jenny’s Website: HUMAN FACTOR SECURITY