Asee peer logo

Helping the Human Element: Educating in Social Engineering

Download Paper |


2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Emerging Computing and Information Technologies II

Tagged Division

Computing & Information Technology

Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Samuel Moses Brigham Young University

visit author page

Samuel Moses is a Security Analyst at Brigham Young University Office of Information Technology. He earned his Bachelors in Information Technology August 2015, emphasizing in the fields of System Administration and Cyber Security. Currently Samuel Moses is working on his Masters in Technology emphasis in Cyber Security.

visit author page


Nathaniel Scott Baker

visit author page

Nate is a recent addition to the BYU Cyber Security Research Lab. After graduating from high school at the age of 16, he attended junior college at Sierra college for a year before transferring to BYU. Nate has taken a wide variety of courses, ranging from chemistry to business to computer engineering, and plans on graduating with a degree in Information Technology in 2016. He has recently discovered an interest in cyber security, and started working as a research assistant in the CSRL in order to begin developing his skills. In his free time, Nate enjoys playing guitar, snowboarding, and theater.

visit author page


Dale C. Rowe Brigham Young University

visit author page

Dr. Rowe has worked for nearly two decades in security and network architecture with a variety of industries in international companies. He has provided secure enterprise architecture on both military and commercial satellite communications systems. He has also advised and trained both national and international governments on cyber-security.
Since joining Brigham Young University in 2010, he has designed a variety of courses on Information Assurance, Cyber Security, Penetration Testing, Cyber Forensics and Systems Administration and published over a dozen papers in cyber-security.

visit author page

Download Paper |



Modern cybersecurity is seeing a spike in attention. Recent vulnerabilities and exploits have prompted industry professionals to spend a greater amount on cybersecurity measures, from powerful and comprehensive authentication systems to the most thorough and comprehensive firewall and anti-virus systems. These professionals seek to stop hackers and other malicious parties from gaining access to their systems by shoring up all possible gaps in their technology, but often overlook the weakest point in their system: the human element.

People are often one of the first things a malicious party will attempt to manipulate during an intrusion, since people seek to please one another, help those that help them, and quickly appease those who approach them in order to maintain their personal space. Where hackers have found themselves stymied upon being faced with an overly aggressive firewall or unbreakable authentication system, an exploitation of the human element has been key in obtaining the desired information or resource. Social engineering must be protected against alongside other forms of exploitation, in order to best protect information.

In this paper, the writers explore and discuss the field of cybersecurity known as social engineering. After a review of the field as it currently stands, the writers will outline a graduate-level curriculum for social engineering education, which can be used to teach aspiring offensive cybersecurity analysts the best methods to test the security of an organization’s human element, as well as teach aspiring security professionals about best practices and policies that they can use to protect the resources they are responsible for.

Moses, S., & Baker, N. S., & Rowe, D. C. (2016, June), Helping the Human Element: Educating in Social Engineering Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25456

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2016 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015