Research & Cold Calls

Research Calls

During research calls, individuals or teams will test out their theories, hypotheses, ideas and gut feelings about social engineering techniques. These calls will be live from our booth at DEF CON. We anticipate providing researchers with approximately 20 minutes of time to execute their research call and gather their data. 

Researchers will then have the opportunity to debrief the attendees with the results of their research call and allow for limited Q&A. 

Sound exciting?

Do you have an idea you want to put to the test? Registration is still open for calls. Check it out here:

Research Call Recording

Dr. Aunshul Rege

SEC Research Lead

Snow and Dr. Rege discuss the SEC’s Research Call event at DEF CON 30.

Accepted Research Calls

Dr. Tessa Cole

Sunday @ 9:00 - 9:30

Preferential Treatment: Exploring the influence of bias among those targeted with SE vishing attacks

Research suggests that small companies are more susceptible to fraud and are less likely to recover. Small companies operate like mom-and-pop shops where individuals may have implicit biases. These biases may be more apparent due to the absence of staffing categorizes that ensure federal guidelines and compliance. Thus, I plan to vish a small town business to explore their susceptibility to vishing and their response to females in authority positions who represent different demographics.


Dr. Cole received a bachelor’s degree from Berry College in Rome, Georgia, in 2016. She continued her studies at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in criminal justice, where she earned her master’s in 2018. Dr. Cole pursued a doctoral degree at Georgia State University in the criminology and criminal justice department. She successfully completed and defended her dissertation in June of 2022 at Georgia State University in the criminology and criminal justice department. Her research has examined offenders’ decision-making processes online against targets. Dr. Cole’s work has been published in peer-reviewed publications such as Victims & Offenders and International Criminal Justice Review, with several forthcoming publications.

Dr. Cole’s area of research focuses on offenders’ effect(s) on targets and victims within the cybercrime ecosystem, including, but not limited to revenge pornography, sexting among adolescents, and online fraud. She is proficient in both SPSS and STATA and is currently further developing her GIS and PYTHON skills. She has worked with Dr. Rege, who has invited her to participate and share her research knowledge in two panels, an academic panel highlighting black cybercrime researchers and Temple University’s Cybersecurity in Application, Research, and Education (CARE) Lab’s Social Engineering Educator Workshop.

She has a heart for others and has volunteered for the Crisis Hotline, Inc., a national online crisis hotline. Additionally, she has served as a mentor for student athletics at Berry College, where she also played college soccer. A few of the awards Dr. Cole has received are the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology Graduate Teaching Award at Georgia State University in 2021, the Department of Social, Cultural, and Justice Studies Outstanding Graduate Student at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in 2018, the Berry College Inspirational Student-Athlete of the Year in 2016 and the O. Wayne Rollins Student Work Award at Berry College in 2015. Additionally, Dr. Cole holds several certificates of completion from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for operational technology concepts and ethical hacking.

Tessa believes technology is a tool that is commonly exploited by cybercriminals to victimize unsuspecting users; Therefore, she has a desire to educate users about the risks of victimization online and combat those who have perpetrated against others online.

Cold Calls

Cold Calls give attendees a walk-up opportunity to make a short call to get a feel for both the contest and the world of Social Engineering through vishing but without the contest elements.

How does it work?

After signing up, when your spot becomes available, you’re given a random company and we’ll provide the phone number and who you’re calling. You’ll also get three random objectives to get the receiver of your call to provide. Each objective is rated as either easy, medium or hard, and you get one of each. You’re free to try to get just one, two, or all three. You’ll enter our phone booth and be given five minutes to do your best.

Why are they called Cold Calls?

We took the term from the sales world, which in sales, means the receiver is not expecting your call. Yes, technically the Vishing Competition consists of cold calls as well. However, in their case, they’ve had more time to research the company and devise a crafty pretext. You won’t get that opportunity. It doesn’t get much colder than that!

How much does it cost?

Nothing! It’s free! This is provided on a first come first serve basis to any DEF CON attendee. 

How do I win?

That’s the best part, you don’t! The Cold Call section is not a competition, so you can’t win, but you also can’t lose. However, what you will get as a caller is a first hand opportunity to try Social Engineering through vishing.

How do I sign up?

So, you want to do it, huh? That’s great! Cold Calls are on a first come first serve basis as time permits and offered during lunch and at random times throughout the day as time permits. 

Sign up is provided on-site, just speak with a Volunteer or Staff member at the SEC during DEF CON 30!

As part of the sign up, you must agree to our ethical guidelines which you can find here. You’ll be required to sign a statement that you agree to follow our ethical guidelines during the call when you sign up.