Telephonic Deceptions: Part II
by Rick Brenner
Deception at work probably wasn't invented at work. Most likely it is a continuation of deception in the rest of life. But the technologies of the modern workplace offer new opportunities to practice the art. Here's Part II of a handy guide for telephonic self-defense.
Nature has many versions of Caller ID spoofing, one of which is most familiar to dog owners. Pictured is Duma, a wolf at the UK Wolf Conservation Trust, as she rolls to capture a scent atop a mound. She's rolling on some aftershave sprinkled on the ground a few minutes earlier. Scent-rolling is believed to be a method for disguising the individual's own scent, as a means of avoiding detection by prey. It provides olfactory camouflage. Photo by Retron at en.Wikipedia.
Last time we looked at deceptions involved in faking calls, circumventing personal cell phone bans, and borrowing phones. Here is Part II of our catalog of telephonic deceptions.
- Faux hang-ups
- In these days of frequently broken cellular connections, we've all become accustomed to interrupted conversations. Usually, broken connections are due to malfunctions. But some people have taken advantage of the situation by actually terminating calls they no longer wish to continue. To avoid paying a social price if they do it angrily, they break the connection while they themselves are speaking calmly, as if engaged in the conversation. Their conversation partners then assume that the broken connection is a mishap, but the conversation breakers don't renew the connection, and they don't pick up if their partners try to renew.
- Common mistakes: breaking the connection while the other person is speaking, or breaking it while audibly angry.
- Background sounds made to order
- Background sounds might not be what they seem. You can buy recordings of background sounds from airports, train stations, busy streets, traffic jams, sports events, arguing kids, and more. There are even apps for recording your own custom background sounds, to ensure, for example, that flight number announcements match what they are supposed to be, or that the arguing kids are actually your kids.
- Common mistakes: re-using a recorded background sound once too often with the same person, or using a busy airport background when the airport in question is actually closed by weather or mishap.
- Caller ID spoofing
- Caller ID spoofing In telephone conversations,
background sounds might not
be what they seemwas the key technique used by the hackers working for News of the World. Using a paid service, the call initiator provides two phone numbers — the number to call, and the spoofed caller ID. The service then places the call to the first number in such a manner that it appears to have been originated from the second. This deception can make a call appear to come from a phone different from the originator's phone. Thus, for example, the originator can appear to be calling from work when actually calling from his or her mobile phone. If the originator's work phone is forwarded to his or her mobile phone, not even an immediate callback will unwrap the deception.
- Common mistake: failing to control the background sounds of the originator's location well enough to match the location of the spoofed phone.
Caller ID spoofing can present real security concerns. For example, in the News of the World scandal, Caller ID spoofing gave abusers access to voice mailboxes that were not protected by password access. Most voicemail systems do provide this option, but most users never turn it on. Is your voice mailbox protected by a password? First in this series Top Next Issue
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More articles on Workplace Politics:
- Devious Political Tactics: A Field Manual
- Some practitioners of workplace politics use an assortment of devious tactics to accomplish their ends. Since most of us operate in a fairly straightforward manner, the devious among us gain unfair advantage. Here are some of their techniques, and some suggestions for effective responses.
- Management Debt: Part II
- As with technical debt, we incur management debt when we make choices that carry with them recurring costs. How can we quantify management debt?
- Rope-A-Dope in Organizational Politics
- Mohammed Ali's strategy of "rope-a-dope" has wide application. Here's an example of applying it to workplace politics at the organizational scale.
- Inappropriate Levels of Regard
- The regard we have for others as people is sometimes influenced by the regard we have for the work they do. Confusing the two is a dangerous error.
- Impasses in Group Decision-Making: Part III
- In group decision-making, impasses can develop. Some are related to the substance of the issue at hand. With some effort, we can usually resolve substantive impasses. But treating nonsubstantive impasses in the same way doesn't work. Here's why.
See also Workplace Politics and Ethics at Work for more related articles.
Forthcoming Issues of Point Lookout
- Coming October 14: Contextual Causes of Conflict: Part II
- Too often we assume that the causes of destructive conflict lie in the behavior or personalities of the people directly participating in the conflict. Here's Part II of an exploration of causes that lie elsewhere. Available here and by RSS on October 14.
- And on October 21: Managing Wishful Thinking Risk
- When things go wrong, and we look back at how we got there, we must sometimes admit to wishful thinking. Here's a framework for managing the risk of wishful thinking. Available here and by RSS on October 21.
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