A lot of people have bought into the Hollywood mythology of a hacker as someone who sits at a keyboard typing randomly until he magically manages to break into a secure computer system solely by the power of his superior understanding of computers and programming, but the truth is you don’t have to be a Super Genius™ to successfully invade a computer network. You just have to know how to ask nicely:
WASHINGTON – IRS employees ignored security rules and turned over sensitive computer information to a caller posing as a technical support person, according to a government study.
Sixty-one of the 102 people who got the test calls, including managers and a contractor, complied with a request that the employee provide his or her user name and temporarily change his or her password to one the caller suggested, according to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, an office that does oversight of Internal Revenue Service.
All it takes to be a successful hacker is a little knowledge of social engineering.