Practical Social Engineering Cover

Practical Social Engineering

A Primer for the Ethical Hacker
by Joe Gray
May 2022, 230 pp.
Lay-flat binding


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Even the most advanced security teams can do little to defend against an employee clicking a malicious link, opening an email attachment, or revealing sensitive information in a phone call. Practical Social Engineering will help you better understand the techniques behind these social engineering attacks and how to thwart cyber criminals and malicious actors who use them to take advantage of human nature.

Joe Gray, an award-winning expert on social engineering, shares case studies, best practices, open source intelligence (OSINT) tools, and templates for orchestrating and reporting attacks so companies can better protect themselves. He outlines creative techniques to trick users out of their credentials, such as leveraging Python scripts and editing HTML files to clone a legitimate website. Once you’ve succeeded in harvesting information about your targets with advanced OSINT methods, you’ll discover how to defend your own organization from similar threats. 

You’ll learn how to: 

  • Apply phishing techniques like spoofing, squatting, and standing up your own web server to avoid detection 
  • Use OSINT tools like Recon-ng, theHarvester, and Hunter 
  • Capture a target’s information from social media 
  • Collect and report metrics about the success of your attack 
  • Implement technical controls and awareness programs to help defend against social engineering 

Fast-paced, hands-on, and ethically focused, Practical Social Engineering is a book every pentester can put to use immediately.

Author Bio 

Joe Gray is a veteran of the U.S. Navy. He is the Founder/Principal Instructor of The OSINTion, the Founder/Principal Investigator of Transparent Intelligence Services, and the inaugural winner of the DerbyCon Social Engineering CTF. A member of the Password Inspection Agency, he also won the TraceLabs OSINT Search Party at DEFCON 28, and recently authored the OSINT and OPSEC tools – DECEPTICON Bot and WikiLeaker.

Table of contents 


Part 1: The Basics
Chapter 1: What is Social Engineering?
Chapter 2: Ethical Considerations in Social Engineering

Part 2: Offensive Social Engineering
Chapter 3: Preparing for an Attack
Chapter 4: Gathering Business OSINT
Chapter 5: Social Media and Public Documents
Chapter 6: Gathering OSINT About People
Chapter 7: Phishing
Chapter 8: Cloning a Landing Page
Chapter 9: Detection, Measurement, and Reporting

Part 3: Defending Against Social Engineering
Chapter 10: Proactive Defense Techniques
Chapter 11: Technical Email Controls
Chapter 12: Producing Threat Intelligence

Appendix A: Scoping Worksheet
Appendix B: Reporting Template
Appendix C: Information Gathering Worksheet
Appendix D: Pretexting Samples
Appendix E: Exercises to Improve Your Social Engineering


"Gray provides a very accessible look at social engineering that should be essential reading for pentesters and ethical hackers."
—Ian Barker, BetaNews

"I really liked the way that [Joe] lays out tools to use, including walking through where to download them from and install them . . . as beginner-friendly and as easy to use as possible."
—Patrick Laverty, Layer 8 Podcast

"A great introductory text for those that want to master the fundamentals of social engineering."
—Ben Rothke, Senior Information Security Manager, Tapad

"A good read for cyber security professionals at all levels."
—Uday Mittal, Cybersecurity Professional