Human Factor or Social Engineering - Computer Definition
Typically, cracking activities include not only some degree of technological prowess but also human factor skills, known as social engineering. Simply put, even at the very basic level, a cracker needs to “social engineer” a computer system or another human being into thinking that he or she is the system administrator or a legitimate user. “Human factor engineering” and “social engineering,” therefore, are general terms used to describe how crackers manipulate a social situation to gain access to a network for which they are not authorized. This access could be permanent or temporary and could even employ as part of the scheme an organizational “insider.” Putting on a janitor’s outfit and pretending to be allowed access to a computer network would be one example of a low-end “human factor” or “social engineering” technique.
Schell, B.H., Dodge, J.L., with S.S. Moutsatsos. The Hacking of America: Who’s Doing It, Why, and How. Westport, CT: Quorum Books, 2002.