Social engineering has grown drastically over the past several years. This type of attack continues to impact both businesses and individuals at alarming rates. Understanding what social engineering is, and how to protect yourself from these attacks, has become an essential part of our lives.
Social Engineering is a form of cybercrime that uses human interaction to obtain information from a target. The information can be used to compromise systems or gain access to sensitive data, such as financial information and personally identifiable information (PII). Social engineers may pose as employees, customers, vendors or partners to gain access to data they would not otherwise have access to. They may also use their knowledge of human nature and psychological principles to manipulate targets into performing actions that are against their best interests or against company policy.
What is social engineering?
Social engineering is a way to gain access to a system or network by using psychological manipulation, often with the help of social relationships and interaction. Social engineering is not the same as hacking; it’s more like a human-based attack, although it can sometimes be used in conjunction with hacking. Hacking involves breaking into computers through technical means, while social engineering uses people (or their emotions) as its gateway into systems or networks.
Social engineering uses social relationships to gain information about you and your colleagues so they can use that information against you later on, when they need something from you. The goal of social engineering is always the same: getting someone else to do something for them, that they either wouldn’t normally do, or shouldn’t have done in the first place if they knew better!
By understanding how these attacks work and how common they are becoming among cybercriminals, we can all take steps towards protecting ourselves from falling victim to one ourselves one day soon too!
Social engineering tactics
Social engineering is a method of gaining information by exploiting human relationships. The more information you have, the easier it is to exploit people. Social engineering covers a wide range of techniques that rely on building trust and confidence with a person in order to trick them into doing something they otherwise would not do. Some common types of social engineering include:
- Phishing – email or text messages that appear to be from legitimate companies like banks or PayPal but are actually designed to collect personal information like passwords or credit card numbers
- Spear phishing – this form of phishing targets specific individuals and uses details about them (such as names, interests and work history) in an attempt to build rapport with the target before asking for sensitive data
Social engineering is becoming a widespread problem for many companies.
Social engineering is a form of hacking that uses human interaction to gain access to data and information. Social engineers often use phishing attacks to get people to give up sensitive information or download malware onto their computers. In either scenario, the damage to the company can be devasting.
If the fraudster obtains sensitive information, like customer data, the harm to the company’s reputation can be irreversible. With a malware attack like ransomware, the financial impact on the company can be catastrophic. Ransomware is a form of malware that is designed to encrypt files on a device, rendering those files and the systems that rely on them unusable, until a hefty ransom is paid.
The typical target for social engineering is someone who is gullible and easily manipulated by strangers over the phone or email. Making companies with several employees prime targets because it increases the chances of the social engineering finding that gullible person.
Protecting your organization from social engineering techniques
Here are a few tip to protect your organization from social engineering attacks:
- Train employees to recognize social-engineering attempts and encourage them to report suspicious activity.
- Consider using security awareness training, which can help make employees more aware of the dangers of social engineering. For training programs, there are several companies like Phishbuster Academy that have done the legwork in creating affective programs. Many times, it is a lot easier to implement a proven program than design one yourself from the ground up.
- Have a reporting system in place for when an employee does notice something suspicious or out of place.
- Monitor your employees’ social media accounts for any signs that they have been targeted by a hacker — especially if they work at a company with sensitive data. This can be done through employee monitoring software, which allows IT managers to track what sites their staff members visit and what kind of content they interact with on those sites.
Contact Us for Assistance
As we’ve seen, there are many different ways that social engineers can try to exploit your company. By implementing some of the tips we’ve outlined here, you can keep yourself safe from these malicious attacks and ensure that your employees aren’t fooled by these tricks either. If you would like additional information on implementing these steps, please CONTACT US, we are always here to help.