The Social Engineering Community (“SEC”) this year at DEF CON will be starting a new Vishing Research event to allow you to test and showcase your research idea. Do you have a theory, hypothesis, idea or even just a gut feeling that you want to put to the test in front of a live audience at DEF CON? Our Vishing Research event gives you the ability to do just that.
We invite you to fill out the form below to tell us about yourself, or your team of up to four people, and your research idea. Should you be accepted, you’ll be given 20 minutes on Sunday (August 14, 2022) morning at the SEC to conduct a live research experiment, collect your findings, and provide your results to a live audience (approx. 2 minutes).
Not feeling the research aspect and rather just want to give it a try?
Our cold call event may be a better fit.
What is your research/idea? (500 characters max)
We want to see how customer service responds to different types of customer complaints. Specifically, does the personality/tone and perceived gender of the customer impact conversation duration and quality?
Once completed, how will the results of this experiment contribute to advancing the craft of Social Engineering? (i.e. will this be used to confirm or challenge a technique or belief, or showcase something novel) (500 characters max)
Female social engineers have been known to be more successful in accomplishing their objectives because they come across as being more caring or trustworthy. Most sales personnel have mentioned that friendly demeanors are useful in convincing customers to purchase products/services.
By using a combination of an aggressive male/female and a friendly male/female, we want to challenge how a different/atypical combination of gender and personality might influence interactions and outcomes.
We also feel like this research will offer transparency should others choose to replicate it by providing a set of variables that can be manipulated to determine outcomes.
What entity do you plan to vish and why?
Who in that entity do you plan to vish?
General number: 1 (877) 723-3929
What information do you plan to obtain through this vish call? (500 characters max)
We want to obtain three specific pieces of information. First, we want to see if customer service follows specific protocols for customer complaints (do they use a specific script). Second, we hope to obtain the managers’ information (both at the local and district levels). Finally, we plan to get the location and contact information for the two closest stores in my geographic area.
Who will you pose as (what persona do you plan to take on)? Answer the 5 Ws:
What pretext will you use? (500 characters max)
We plan to test this by placing four calls. In all four scenarios, we are controlling for the store (ACME) and the pretext (complaint of being double charged for a product), so that we can test for personas, specifically, how the gender-tone combination impacts the customer process.
Call 1: perceived female (high-pitched voice) who is aggressive throughout.
Call 2: perceived male (deep voice) who is aggressive throughout.
Call 3: perceived female (high-pitched voice) who is friendly throughout.
Call 4: perceived male (deep voice) who is friendly throughout.
Please provide an overview or synopsis of your vishing script? (1,250 characters max)
Calls 1 & 2 (Karen/Bill):
“Hi – I’ve been on hold forever; your customer service is awful! Can you at least help me now? I was charged twice for (product) and I’ve been trying to get a refund. No one is helping me. I want my money back NOW!”
Calls 3 & 4 (Stacy/George):
“Hi – how are you doing today? I was wondering if I could trouble you to help me with a request. I was charged twice for (product) and I’ve been trying to get a refund. Could you please help me out? I’d really appreciate it”
What do you think will happen during the live vish? (500 characters max)
We anticipate that personality and demeanor take precedence over gender in having a successful customer service interaction. So Stacy and George would both be successful personas despite the gender difference because they are friendly.
For the aggressive personas, we think gender takes precedence. We feel that Karen would be viewed more negatively and would receive poor customer service, as the support staff will want to end the uncomfortable (and potentially annoying) conversation quickly. For Bill, we still expect an uncomfortable conversation, but we believe the call might last longer and the complaint may be resolved.
Why do you think this pretext/persona/script will work? (500 characters max)
We have personal experience of working at grocery outlets and we have dealt with customer complaints. These pretexts and personas are inspired by our actual experiences.