Social Engineering: Scarcity

by Natsuya Uesugi

I wanted to start talking a little bit about the tactics or science you would call social engineering. It is used in grydscaen by the Elite government and both of the hacker groups in the story, the T-Hack and the Packrats. I thought I would start with scarcity and make this a regular thing for a while as we delve a little bit more into the science behind hacking and how it is used in grydscaen. I figure I write about it that I might as well shed some more light on it.

Social Engineering can be many things from simple manipulation, to a suggestion, to a push to an all out attack that gets a target to spill sensitive information. Hackers and we will distinguish between black hat and white hat a little as we go can use this tactic ethically like a psychiatrist might to help a patient or maliciously to scam someone into giving them money or access to a sensitive system through phishing attack for example.

In grydscaen we see many different types of social engineering which is explored a little bit more in grydscaen: tribute which is an anthology of grydscaen short stories which focuses on the hackers in the grydscaen universe like Faid the leader of the Packrats, Acolyte or Raven who gets caught and ends up working for the government.

In terms of scarcity which is about making something appealing or necessary scarce and wanted because of it, we see this used by the Elite government in the Echelons. The first way we see it used is through control of psi inducer drugs and iodine pills. Iodine pills are necessity in the Echelons to combat the radiation that is still pervasive due to the dropping of the Dionysis Effect nuclear bomb by the Atlantea Federation on the Pacific Territories.

Iodine pills are to be taken 3 times a day to stave off radiation sickness. Citizens in the pristine City can afford this but people in the Echelons and the Zone who are poor living in a slum and starving can not. The pills are therefore scarce and when the government makes them available little can be done to afford them. This has spurned a large black market in the Echelons where drug dealers will sell onsies instead of full prescriptions. We see Rom in the story “A Storm’s Coming” talk about taking one pill a day instead of three and spending all the money he made panhandling on iodine pills so he can’t afford to eat.

The pills are necessity and because the government prices them out of reach people have to resort to other tactics to get them. This is also true of the psi inducer drug neurocyne which requires a prescription to buy and a license to carry. No one in the Echelons can afford that license so again the black market and drug dealers are the only way for psychics to get the drug they need to control the aegis or manifestation of psychic power.

Governments in the real world in countries that may not be as rich as the United States may use this tactic in politics to get people to support a certain agenda by making staples scare or jobs so they are only available to supporters of their cause. This is just one example of this in action. I am not saying this doesn’t occur in the US, it just might be more subtle.

The Packrats try to combat scarcity by their actions with the Runners who smuggle psi inducer drugs, iodine pills, hormones, tech, ware and code as well as data out of the City and into the Echelons. By making things that are readily available to citizens in the City but are scarce in the Echelons the Packrats are trying to even the score. Though most Runner stash is still sold on the black market by dealers, the Runners make the drugs available to the people through the dealers at a lower price.

We will talk more about social engineering in the coming weeks as part of grydscaen’s culture. Stick around to learn more about these techniques which hackers use.