Bonus Section of Everything You
Wanted to Know about Social Engineering -- But Were Afraid to
Security Training Seminars
One of the most ingenious social engineering scams I have
ever witnessed was a series of computer security training seminars
that Fred Villella of New Dimensions International ran from the
fall of 1996 through 1998. His star player was Se7en, a thirtyish-looking
fellow who claimed to have a real name of Christian Valor Asnieres,
a degree in biology from the University of California in Los
Angeles, and a history of computer hacking dating back to his
It all began around the end of 1995. Pete Shipley introduced
Se7en to the hacker scene by letting him join Shipley's Dis Org
At the time they were both working for Wells Fargo bank, Shipley
in computer security and Se7en in a less exalted capacity. With
Shipley vouching for Se7en's bona fides, the newcomer soon became
a hacker superstar.
At Def Con 4 in the summer of 1996, Se7en stole the show.
During Def Con, Winn Schwartau (of http://www.infowar.com)
introduced Se7en to Villella. Villella recruited Se7en for a
series of security seminars. Shipley joined the team, along with
Phrack editor Michael Schiffman, the L0pht's Mudge, and, much
later, Attrition.org's Brian Martin.
Se7en also had impressed me. His posts to the Def Con mail
list showed that he was a gifted writer. Before Def Con I had
suggested to Se7en that we should collaborate on my upcoming
Happy Hacker book. I imagined that with the hacker talents he
presumably possessed, along with his sense of humor and charismatic
personality, we could create a best seller.
At that 1996 Def Con, journalist Richard Thieme and I lunched
with Se7en. Thieme and I had agreed in advance that we would
do the reporter thing and find out just what was the story behind
During lunch I questioned some items on the resume Se7en had
given me. What stood out was that he said he had an honorable
discharge from "NATO Combined Forces." I asked, "Which
service did you enlist in?"
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