Eris Rising

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Description Why hack machines, when you can hack people?

A talk postulating a new type of hacker, the 'Eris': a blackhat sociologist who social engineers groups rather than individuals. Certain group ideologies or behaviors allow easy manipulation, and politically active communities like the hacker community will be in the targets in the coming era.

Type Talk
Kids session No
Keyword(s) social, political
Person organizing Colum
Language en - English
en - English
Other sessions...


Starts at 2016/12/29 15:00
Ends at 2016/12/29 16:30
Duration 90 minutes
Location Hall C.2
Starts at
Ends at TBD
Duration TBD

I want to get people talking about the threat of social engineering at the group level. In the internet age COINTELPRO techniques will not only be available to governments, but to anyone skilled in manipulation. This presents serious threats to communities, organizations and, as we've arguably seen recently, democratic systems. Politically active social groups like the hacker community will be especially targeted by nation states and other actors wanting to disrupt or discredit their activity. I believe we are already seeing the appearance of what I call an 'Eris': a professional hacker of social groups. Social media can be used as a laboratory in which to study and experiment with the art of group manipulation, and today's amateur Erises will be selling their skills to the highest bidder tomorrow. This, coupled with a growing corpus of human behavioral studies in the social sciences will see the rise of skilled attackers in an environment where few targets have even begun to think about defence.

I'll be discussing my own experiences in a community that was attacked by a proto-Eris and particularly focusing on what the vulnerabilities are that a skilled manipulator can exploit.

If you want to get a taste of what I'm talking about, you can read a soft sci-fi story I wrote in which I've tried to present some of these ideas in a fun format. You can find it here: