Defined as:

(in the context of information security) the use of deception to manipulate individuals into divulging confidential or personal information that may be used for fraudulent purposes.

Coincidentally I listened to a podcast at the weekend with Tristan Harris. Formerly Design Ethicist at Google, Tristan is a world-renowned expert on how technology steers our decisions and is the co-founder of the Center for Humane Technology.

He gave a fantastic description of the skill of a modern magician, how they can play with your senses. These skills applied in a technological sense are his focus. For our topic this week its easy to see how that can apply to information security.


The following applies to us all in a more general sense rather than a precise attack on a target to gain entrance into a corporations buildings or networks, but the principle of distraction applies. In the above podcast Tristan states a remarkable comparison between an author I’ve read, (Orwell) versus one (Huxley) I now must read! When reading these quotes over again I wonder whether the addiction to the phone has built up a slight ignorance of whats around us in the physical world in all it’s possible interpretations.

  • “We were all told to keep an eye out for 1984 [by George Orwell]. We thought the dystopia we would get would be the Big Brother one, but alongside Orwell’s dark vision, there was this older and slightly less well-known, but equally chilling vision, of Huxley’sBrave New World.”

  • “What Orwell feared were those who would ban books; what Huxley feared is that there would be no reason to ban a book because there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information; Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we’d be reduced to passivity. Orwell feared the truth would be concealed from us; Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared that what we feel will ruin us, Huxley feared that what we desire will ruin us.”

Also a very interesting discussion around the merits of the Stanford Persuasion Lab!

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