Smooth-Talking Hackers Fool IT Giants

Hackers attending the Defcon security conference have proved that smooth-talking is the easiest way to obtain sensitive information from employees of some of the world's leading IT companies.

The conference played host to the first "social engineering" contest, in which hackers were challenged to call employees working at 10 leading organisations, including Google, Apple and Microsoft, and con them into revealing information.

The hackers had to find out information that would allow them to launch tailored attacks against the organisations, such as the type of security software used and applications running on company networks.

The hackers, in the confines of the law, had proved that they could exploit human "vulnerabilities" in order to make it easy for them to launch an attack on a company's system.

In a statement, Mati Aharoni of Offensive Security, said: “You often have to crack through firewalls and burn the perimeter in order to get into the internal organisation. It is much easier to use social engineering techniques to get to the same place."