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on April 13, 2014
In his first book, Social Engineering: The Art of Human Hacking, author Christopher Hadnagy wrote the definitive book on social engineering. In it, he detailed the entire lifecycle of social engineering and pretty much everything you needed to know on the topic.

In his just released follow-up Unmasking the Social Engineer: The Human Element of Security, he takes social engineering up a few levels. While the first book was more of a practical introduction to the topic, this is an advanced title for the serious practitioner. There is a lot of interesting information and research provided in the book. But the challenge here is not just reading it; rather it is in mastering its practical use.

The book is meant to show the reader how do read a person's body language and facial expressions. By understanding them, it makes social engineering easier, but also defending against social engineering attacks easier also. If you can understand how an attacker uses non-verbal behavior, then you can better defend yourself and your organization against them.

While the first book was about a standard approach to social engineering, this new title can be seen as advanced social engineering. The premise of the book is that in order to effectively and fully deal with and defend against social engineering threats, an understanding of how non-verbal communications is used is important.

The book notes that much of our everyday communications are nonverbal. And as its name implies, nonverbal communication is the process of communicating and understanding messaging via mechanisms such as touch, posture, body language, eye movement, eye contact and more.

Since social engineers and scammers use these techniques, it is important to understand them in order to defend against them.

The books forward is written by Dr. Paul Ekman. Ekman is a renowned psychologist whose career is deeply enmeshed in non-verbal communications. Hadnagy's approach is based significantly on methods Ekman developed, much of it starting over 35 years ago. As to Dr. Ekman, he was ranked in the 100 most cited psychologists of the 20th-century.

Of the books 4 parts, half of the book is in part 2 - Decoding The Language of the Body. The 4 chapters in the section particularize the various aspects of how movements around different body parts can be interpreted.

While an interesting read, the techniques detailed in the book are quite complex. Whereas it is often difficult to understand what people say, understanding their non-verbal communications is not a trivial endeavor. Readers should therefore not read this 200 page book and expect to come out experts in non-verbal communications.

For the serious reader who wants to understand everything they can about the topic of social engineering, Unmasking the Social Engineer: The Human Element of Security should one of the references in their reading arsenal.
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on May 24, 2014
SURPRISE NO.1: The author avoids using body language myths and generalizations e.g crossing arms and legs means closed and uncrossed means open. This book is more detailed, the author goes into the theory and research of body language in a way that kept me hooked until the end

SURPRISE NO.2: Although the book is about the human element of security, the information was relevant to many human relationships: co-workers, negotiators, parent to child etc.

WARNING: Don't expect an ordinary book about body language. Yes, the book breaks body language down into sections and examines different parts separately. But it also links non verbal behaviour with how people process emotions and how it's used in techniques such as hijacking the amygdala, nonverbal conversational signals, elicitation and other social engineering skills.

It made me aware that I was seeing business people, politicians, and salesmen etc. using similar techniques. In my experience, for people who are interested in body language, it's one of the rare books that made me set everything aside in order to read it.
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on March 5, 2014
I'm very familiar with the author's passion for Social Engineering and all aspects related to it, due to being an avid listener of the Social Engineering podcast. Of course having enjoyed his previous book, I picked this one up right away… well I couldn’t put it down. The main take away i got from the book was realizing this is not just for social engineers, there are a great many practical aspects of non-verbals that apply to daily life; from being more aware of detecting the emotions of loved ones, to noticing the non-verbal tells of those in your professional life... and of course, learning how to become a better human hacker. The illustrations / photos were great, something you can't get from just a written or verbal description. My only complaint is some items were so interesting, I wish they were gone into with more details. The references to the research and sources were well documented, something many similar books lack. Also, for those new to social engineering / influence there are quite a few reviews of the basics yet done in such a way as to be concise and not bore those already familiar... personally I found those items valuable as a quick refresher. Again, great book and really the only one I know of that concentrate on the of non-verbals as applied to social engineering. This is an essential read for the penetration tester / security professional that goes on engagements with human interaction.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon July 8, 2014
An impulse buy on seeing the eminent Paul Ekman's name, I was disappointed when the book arrived to discover he had just written the foreword. It got better after that. The author defines a social engineer as a good communicator not, as claimed on the back cover, "getting people to do what you want" (ie manipulator) but throughout the book he gives examples of brilliant manipulation.

Easy to read, it would need a lot of study to put into practice. Written from the point of view of someone paid to breach business/building security, to find and report on their weak points, he makes it look much easier than it must be.

A complex, concentrated expose of how to interpret a myriad of body language and facial expressions.
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on May 23, 2014
As a techie, I found this book to be quite enlightening. Not only did it inform me of how the mind of an attacker would work in these types of scenarios, but also laid things out in a way I could learn from which was quite fun and engaging.

It was a relief to get a way from the technical mumbo-jumbo hacker text and step into the psychology of a social engineer.

Do recommend.
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on April 13, 2016
Interesting but only mildly persuasive. It deals mostly with the body language of people but misses a lot of points and the things that it does point out are by no means universal. Other aspects pointed out are obvious. If someone turns their body away from you while you're talking , they might not be that into you. The author appears to be an expert and faking his way into secured environments a la James Bond but that relies on an audacity that has no fear of getting people fired.
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on June 20, 2014
Chris Hadnagy's role as a distinguished figure in the Cybersecurity community is delightfully apparent in his authorship of "Unmasking the Social Engineer". In this second book on the art of social engineering (his topic of specialty), Hadnagy expertly analyzes Dr. Paul Ekman's lifelong work on body language. He deciphers and explains information about the various types on non-verbal communication while revealing relatable scenarios that are highly applicable to the social engineering element of cybersecurity.

This book may trigger many 'ah ha' moments, especially if you are new to studying the art of body language. You will suddenly understand in far greater depth why people do the things they do with their body. You will also gain heightened awareness of how you control your own body, and how your body language might be perceived by others.

As a cherry on top of it all, the book even contains a medley of helpful, illustrative photographs to help visually relay concepts in the study of body language.

Similar to the concept of ethical hacking, one must learn to think like a hacker (or social engineer in this case) in order to most effectively defend against a social engineer. For example, in Chapter 7- The Human Emotional Processor, Hadnagy discusses the importance of building empathy or sadness during the process of an Amygdala hijack. He gives details of what a person might do or say in order to gain that empathy. After reading these details and letting it all sink in, the reader somehow instantly become a little less vulnerable to this sort of attack. This book is a solid proof that knowledge is power, especially in the study of nonverbal communication.

I have had the personal pleasure of interviewing Chris Hadnagy two times in the past two years and have gained a world of insight into the art of social engineering by doing so. You can find those interviews by searching " Chris Hadnagy SecureNinja " on YouTube.

I highly recommend both Unmasking the Social Engineer and Social Engineering: The Art of Human Hacking by Chris Hadnagy!
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on March 7, 2014
The Good:

The book covers a wide array of topics including nonverbal communications, decoding body language, deciphering the science behind it all and then how to put it all together. Hadnagy seems to have taken the extra efforts to make sure that everything in the book is grounded in hard science (and it shows). Each chapter is sprinkled with real life examples of the topics with what worked and what failed on that engagement. The information is not just about body language and how to decode it; it is applied directly to the art of social engineering!
The Bad:

I have read most of the books that were referenced in this book, which made some of the underlining science a bit boring and mostly review. This isn’t really bad; perhaps more of a heads up than anything else.


This book is written in such a way that it’s an easy read from end to end as well as a great reference book on the subject. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in social engineering. This is a must read for anyone starting out to the seasoned pros.
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on February 26, 2014
"Unmasking the Social Enginner: The Human Element of Scurity" is very well written and illustrated, with current information. I couldn't put the book down. As a Security Engineer, I can see other professions needing to read this book and understand how to read peoples reactions and feelings. I thought, the scenarios that Chris discussed where very relevant and I have seen myself build empathy with targets and have gotten information that I was looking for but never understood "the why" on how it worked. Now I understand. I have even started noticing people around me and have picked up on visual queues. Thanks Chris for another amazing book.
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on March 9, 2014
After finished reading the first book: It must have been clear to everyone - Your Company probably don't have any security at all.
Social engineering isn't that easy to understand all the time. And as with everything else it takes more time for some to see what it really is to see the problem.
For you who haven't seen or heard about Social Engineering I would definitely recommend it.
[A quick example of social engineering]
Most of the companies are still adding locks and glue to something that that a social engineer doesn't even tries to break through. The IT department is happy after finally securing the entrance to the extremes which have been their focus since forever. The malicious Social engineer in this case didn't. He had already collected the needed information and people the people he had targeted for this didn't realize it and before he left he had a quick coffee and cake while he was talking to the celebrating department then he left the building before the malicious code started to affect all systems.
While the first book explained how the attacker keep the control in all situations and is successful every time, the second book explains how The human body speaks (really loud and clear) about your thoughts and everything else you didn't say. But it will also teach to you think like the malicious attacker. To avoid some attempts.
Knowledge is the only thing that is possible to get somewhere with this growing threat.

In the first book Chris brought Social Engineering into words and knowledge in such details which could be explained and understandable and could be passed on to others, which is amazing
This book is the same but with the body language instead. Amazing or genius, the same meaning at this point-

The book is helpful in so many ways. To change the behavior for someone who doesn't see the problem you need show the facts and make it visual.
Everything is, as in the previous book, is explained on such details and then you practice the skills.
And this needs to be adapted by everyone, otherwise the other security that is in place doesn't matters at all.

It's educational, very interesting and very useful and so important to read and learn

I mean, the only other way is to patch a vulnerability in the human mind
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