Social Engineering: Avoiding Storefront Solicitors

Social Engineering isn't always used for malice. In its purest form, "Social Engineering" is simply taking advantage of predictable social behavior and habits. More advanced social engineering exploits revolve around the human tendency to trust and help others whose plight sounds remotely convincing. Millions of people use some form of social engineering without knowing it. While that doesn't make them good social engineers, it does mean that pretty much anyone can do it.

A simple example is avoiding solicitors who position themselves between you and somewhere you wish to go. This can be people pushing samples on you at the grocery store, people trying to sell merchandise as you leave from concerts, and even charity fundraisers operating in front of businesses.

Your objective is simple: Get in. Get what you need. Get out. If you see someone waiting to pounce on you with a survey, goods for sale, or something else you really don't have the time for, just whip out your cell phone and act like you're having a conversation. It won't stop you from looking like a self-important jerk, but it will save you and your would-be solicitor a few seconds of your lives. Okay, the solicitor's not going to be saved any time, really, but maybe they'll find someone else to talk to who would be more responsive anyways.

Obviously, this works because in most advanced civilizations, we've been trained not to interrupt someone who is talking on their phone. In taking advantage of this habit, you can get in and out quickly (remember to whip out the phone again as you exit!) without the hassle of solicitors.

Having said that, there are some great charity organizations I believe in who position themselves in front of stores. There are also a lot of scumbag scalpers and shrewd salespeople who force their wares on you at social events. Pick your social engineering adventures wisely.

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