Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Social Engineering Pentest Professional(SEPP) Training Review

I recently returned from the new Social Engineering training provided by in the beautiful city of Seattle,WA, a state known for sparkly vampires, music and coffee shop culture.  As many of you reading this article, i also read the authors definitive book Social Engineering- The art of human hacking and routinely perform SE engagements for my clients. When i heard that the author of the aforementioned book was providing training i immediately signed up to get an in person glance at the content provided in the book. However, i was pleasantly surprised to find the course covered so much more then what was presented in the book.


I wasn't aware that there would be more then one instructor and was extremely happy with the content provided by both instructors. Chris and Robin both have a vast amount of knowledge and experience in the realm of social engineering.  Each instructor brought a different angle and use case scenario to the course content. Robin is an FBI agent in charge of behavioral analysis and uses social engineering in his daily life and work to get the results needed to keep our country safe. Chris uses social engineering in his daily work to help keep his clients secure and provides all sorts of free learning material to the information security community through podcasts and online frameworks.

Course Material and Expectation: 
I originally thought that the material covered in class would be a live reiteration of the material covered in Chris's book. However, I couldn't have been more wrong !!  The whole first day was about reading yourself and other people, much of the material was what Robin uses to train FBI agents in eliciting information from possible terrorist threats. Each learning module was based on live demo's, nightly labs, and constant classroom interaction. Each module was in depth and the level of interaction between students was extremely useful and friendly. I would say the instructors had as much fun as the students learning and sharing social techniques and war stories.
The class was heavily made up of ways to elicit personal and confidential information in a way that left the individuatial "Happier for having met you".  Using language, body posture and social truisms as your weapon to gather information, not intended for your ears, but happily leaving the tongue of your target.
Other class activities and materials included an in depth look at micro expressions with labs and free extended learning material going beyond the allotted classroom days.  Also break out sessions which focused on creating Phone and Phishing scripts to effectively raise your rate of success. These sessions were invaluable at learning to use proper language techniques on the phone and in email to obtain your objectives.

Nightly Missions/Labs: 
If you think that you are going to relax at night with a beer. Think again!! You must ensure that your nights are free, as you will be going on missions to gain information from live targets at venues of your choice.  Each night you will have a partner and a mission to gain certain information while making that persons day better then it started.  The information  you are requested to obtain will change each night and if done properly you will notice all of the material in class starting to unfold.. When you get to body language training you will notice which targets are open and when its best to go in for the kill. You will see interactions change based on a persons change in posture and facial expressions. Each day you will take the new techniques you have learned and put them into practice. Each morning you have to report your findings to the class..
During my nightly labs i obtained information such as door codes to secured research facilities, information regarding secret yet to be released projects.  On the lighter side of things i obtained much personal information from my targets along with phone numbers and invitations for further hangouts and events. I made many new friends inside and outside of class.
There were also labs within the confines of the classroom such as games used to solidify your knowledge and tests to figure out what kind of learner you are. Technical labs on the use of information gathering tools and ways to use phone and phishing techniques to your advantage via linguistically and technologically. Essentially the class was about 60% interaction and labs.

Proof it works:
After class i immediately had a phishing and phone based contract at my current employment. I used the email and phone scripts that we created in class with 100% click rate and 100% success in phone elicitation techniques. Gaining full unfettered access to networks through phone and email elicitation and interaction. Although I do generally have a decent SE success rate, my rates on return are now much higher and an understanding of what works and what doesn't, and why are much more refined.

Conclusion and Certification:
I paid for this class out of pocket, including all expenses, hotels, rentals cars and planes etc etc. I would say that the class was worth every penny in which i paid for it. Many extras were given including black hat passes, extended training from notable sources and continued interaction from instructors after class ended. I would highly recommend this class to anyone looking for a solid foundation in social engineering or a non technical alternative to training.  You will learn a lot, push yourself in new ways and have a blast doing it. However I did not see any sparkly vampires while in seattle.... Twilight lied to me LOL
The certification is a 48 hour test in which you will utilize your knowledge gained technologically and socially to breach a company.I am not going to give away to much information about the certification as i haven't taken it yet and I do not want to misspeak on the subject. However I will say that has done an excellent job at figuring out a way to include Real World Social Engineering into a test with verifiable proof of results. I am going to take my test in a couple weeks and it should be a blast!!!

Thanks and I hope this review is helpful to all those looking for SE training.  I had a blast :) :)


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