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
- The Costs of Threats
- Threatening as a way of influencing others might work in the short term. But a pattern of using threats to gain compliance has long-term effects that can undermine your own efforts, corrode your relationships, and create an atmosphere of fear.
- Ten Tactics for Tough Times: Part II
- When you find yourself in a tough spot politically, what can you do? Most of us obsess about the situation for a while, and then if we still have time to act, we do what seems best. Here's Part II of a set of approaches that can organize your thinking and shorten the obsessing.
- Kinds of Organizational Authority: the Formal
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- Obstacles to Finding the Reasons Why
- When we investigate what went wrong, we sometimes encounter obstacles. Interviewing witnesses and participants doesn't always uncover the reasons why. What are these obstacles?
- Devious Political Tactics: More from the Field Manual
- Careful observation of workplace politics reveals an assortment of devious tactics that the ruthless use to gain advantage. Here are some of their techniques, with suggestions for effective responses.
See also Workplace Politics and Ethics at Work for more related articles.
Forthcoming Issues of Point Lookout
- Coming January 28: The Limits of Status Reports: Part II
- We are not completely free to specify the content or frequency of status reports from the people who write them. There are limits on both. Here's Part II of an exploration of those limits. Available here and by RSS on January 28
- And on February 4: Bottlenecks: Part I
- Some people take on so much work that they become "bottlenecks." The people around them repeatedly find themselves stuck, awaiting responses or decisions. Why does this happen and what are the costs? Available here and by RSS on February 4
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