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How Human Hackers use Motivations and Vulnerabilities to their Advantage

Understanding Human Hacking Tactics

In today's digital age, it's easy for human hackers, also known as social engineers, to gather information on potential targets through social media. They use this information to create a personality assessment profile, which they can then use to manipulate and exploit their target. But what exact motivations and vulnerabilities do social engineers look for in their victims, and how do they use them to manipulate their targets?


Motivations are positive things that drive a person. These can be things like family, money, career goals, education, or even material possessions. For example, a human hacker might exploit a target's desire for a nicer home or a brand-new sports car by offering a fake investment opportunity.

Social engineers may also use a target's desire to help others to manipulate them. For example, a social engineer may pretend to be a charity organization, and ask for a donation to help the less fortunate. They may also use a target's desire to be a mentor or coach to exploit them, by pretending to be a mentee or a student.

Ideology and religious convictions

Ideology and religious convictions are also powerful motivations for some people. Social engineers may use a target's beliefs to manipulate them, by pretending to share the same ideals or by pretending to be a representative of a religious organization.


Vulnerabilities, on the other hand, are negative things that can be exploited by a social engineer. Common vulnerabilities include financial stress, relationship problems, addiction, greed, ego, and low self-esteem. For example, a social engineer might target someone who is struggling with financial stress by offering a fake loan or a "get-rich-quick" scheme.

Social engineers may also exploit relationship problems by pretending to be a friend or a counselor, and offering to help with the problem. They may also exploit addiction or vices such as drinking, drug addiction, and gambling by offering to help with the addiction or by pretending to be a supplier of the addictive substance.

Social engineers often prey on vulnerabilities such as greed, ego, and low self-esteem. For instance, they may exploit someone's greed by offering a fake investment by posing as a representative of a reputable organization. They may also manipulate a person's ego by showering them with praise. Additionally, they may take advantage of someone's low self-esteem by pretending to be a friend or counselor and offering assistance.

Protecting Yourself from Human Hackers

It's important to remember that everyone has both motivations and vulnerabilities, and it's the job of a human hacker to find and exploit them. It's important for individuals to be aware of these potential vulnerabilities and to be cautious when approached by strangers or unsolicited offers online. Being aware of your motivations and vulnerabilities, as well as a security awareness training program, can help individuals spot the red flags and avoid falling prey to social engineering tactics.


About the Counterintelligence Institute

Founded by former CIA senior intelligence officer Peter Warmka, the Counterintelligence Institute’s mission is to assist your corporations, government offices, academic institutions and non-profit organizations in protecting your sensitive information and personal data records against security breach attempts. Our online and onsite training services focus on transforming the human factor from being the weakest link in security to becoming the most effective defensive tool against security threats against your company and personal life.


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