IT Security Party Tricks

February 1, 2017 | Javvad Malik
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Cyber is on the tip of everyone’s tongue, from the news to the local shopkeeper. Everyone has heard of it, and many hold strong opinions on technology, security, and hacking.

The dangers of working in technology or security have been well documented. Most of us have probably been roped into being the family IT help desk, or been asked by someone at a party to validate whether or not they have been hacked.

They say that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, and when coupled with soundbites from a sensationalist media, it can become more dangerous than Walter White knocking at your door. I personally have lost track of the number of times people have asked if I can show them the dark web or hack into an ex’s social media account.

Hacking friends and influencing people

Once, I was hanging out with a few of my colleagues in a hotel that, in a corner, had a third party ATM. The kind that independent venues place on their premises, and isn’t run by a particular bank.

I asked if they wanted to see something “cool”. They nodded and came over as I beckoned them towards the ATM. I pressed a few buttons, entered a password, and viola, I was in the service menu. (a trick shown to me by Dan Tentler). It was met by sounds of approval and bro-hugs.

However, the approval from my now new best friends was just the beginning. The following night there was a social event. I was at the buffet looking at the food, working out the delicate balance between what looked nice, and what I could fit on my plate without it all falling down; when I heard my name being called.

A couple of my colleagues from the night before were calling me over to join a larger group of friends. One of them was in the middle of telling a story that seemed to have the group engaged. He pointed at me whilst saying, “you gotta be careful on this one. He’s dangerous – just last night I saw him hack into an ATM in the hotel.”

Before I could point out that I’d merely entered the settings panel, another colleague jumped in, “Yeah man, I was like woah, is he gonna rob the bank? I started to step back thinking that the ATM was gonna start spitting out fifty dollar bills. I was ready for it I tell you.”

The conversation was buzzing as others started sharing their stories of perceived hacking, and it dawned on me that people like to part of something cool. They like to be able to tell a good story. Of course, no-one would ever believe that I could actually hack an ATM, but it’s a nice conversation lubricant that can help one make friends, become popular, and meet the love of your life.

What’s your favourite IT Security Party Trick?

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” – Arthur C Clarke

I was curious as to what the favourite IT Security party trick was for other professionals, so I turned to twitter, which never fails to disappoint.

Lewis liked the old trick of pretending to hack via inspect element.

Or one could point websites to local html files.

Lock-picking also listed as a popular technique.

Quentyn likes to scare people.

Robert liked to read RFID data from credit cards.

Whereas Domingo like to setup a ‘free WiFi’. It reminded me of what my grandad always says, in that there’s no such thing as free WiFi. By WiFi he meant a meal, but I’m sure the analogy still holds.

Branden likes to remind people that if he has physical access to your device, it’s not your device anymore.

Neha likes to dazzle people with her l33t skills by using hackertyper.com.

I assume Erich used to be the ‘wallet inspector’ at school.

Apparently weird stories work for Edward.

Robin needs to really get to some different parties…

JC knows how to leave a good impression!

No Stuart, this is precisely the thing that sets a bad example! It’s why my family and friends ask me to fix stuff for them!

Unsurprisingly, Bob pulls the old FBI surveillance van out of the driveway

Whereas Jerry likes to spoof SSID’s.

Not sure if this is a trick or a trap!

I think the winner was Wesley with this gem. I don’t know whether I’d definitely want him at my party or definitely NOT at my party though.

Do you use any of these party tricks? Or do you have any of your own that amazes and dazzles those around you? Let us know!

Javvad Malik

About the Author: Javvad Malik
The man, the myth, the blogger; Javvad Malik is a London-based IT Security professional. Better known as an active blogger, event speaker and industry commentator who is possibly best known as one of the industry’s most prolific video bloggers with his signature fresh and light-hearted perspective on security. Prior to joining AlienVault, Javvad was a senior analyst with 451 Research providing technology vendors, investors and end users with strategic advisory services, including competitive research and go-to-market positioning.
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