#InfosecurityEurope2022: Q&A With "The People Hacker" Jenny Radcliffe

During a Q&A at this year’s Infosecurity Europe 2022, “The People Hacker” Jenny Radcliffe spoke to the Infosecurity Europe press team and detailed the skills people require to become social engineers and physical infiltrators.

Radcliffe is known in the cybersecurity industry for performing social engineering assignments and educating people about the human element of security. She is also a frequent podcast guest and expert commentator on both traditional and online media and is the host of several award-winning podcasts and shows. Radcliffe was also recently inducted into the Infosecurity Hall of Fame.

Please explain what you do

First and foremost, I am a social engineer. I have two specialisms. The first is psychological scams and cons and the other is physical penetration tester. The old lady on the train might not know what that means, but one day I hope she will.

Have you ever had a moment when you thought, “I am a goner”?

Well, maybe when I was chased by security guards and managers, dogs, etc. It does happen often. I once did a job in Asia when I was asked to go into an office and find an address in a diary. I got to the desk and found the business card. However, I realized that the security teams were coming. Normally, this isn’t an issue since I would have a get-out-of-jail-free card. Yet, I was there a day early. I hid in the garden waiting for them to leave. Another time during surveillance in Transylvania, I fell off a roof!  

Is there a particular skill set that helps you in your role?

There are two primary skills. The first is to adapt while on the job. Plan and plan and plan but throw it away whenever you have to. In short, it’s all about practical adaptability. The second is the discipline to do the task and leave.

How do we get more women inspired to work in the industry?

Many women want to do what I do. However, they don’t realize the risks. As we all know, there are not enough women in the industry. That makes things even more challenging. Despite that, there are benefits to being a woman in the industry – sometimes, it’s easier to get past male security guards. This shows that we need more women to fill roles such as security guards.

If you could thank one person, who would it be?

Thanking one person is hard since you need a team around you to support you. However, one person told me early on in my career to figure out quickly whom to trust and whom to avoid. This has proved essential advice.

If you could give one piece of advice to people to do what you do, what would you say?

You need the experience, hands-on experience. Watch people – you cannot learn everything through theory. This would put people on the right track. 

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