Building Resilience Against Social Engineering Attacks
June 13, 2023
Building Resilience Against Social Engineering Attacks
June 13, 2023
Hooded figure highlighting the words social engineering

Hooded figure highlighting the words social engineering

This is the third blog in our series on Governance, Risk, and Compliance. In today’s digital landscape, where cyber threats continue to evolve, businesses in the Dayton area must remain vigilant in safeguarding their sensitive information and customer data. One particularly deceptive and pervasive type of cyber-attack is social engineering. In this blog post, we will explore what social engineering is and provide practical strategies to protect your organization from these insidious attacks.

What is Social Engineering?

Social engineering involves the psychological manipulation of individuals to trick them into revealing confidential information, performing specific actions, or granting unauthorized access. Attackers exploit human nature’s inclination to trust and exploit vulnerabilities to gain illicit access to systems or sensitive data. Social engineering attacks can take various forms. These include phishing emails, pretexting, baiting, tailgating, and even physical impersonation. Attackers often prey on employees’ lack of awareness and their willingness to help, deceive, or exploit others.

Social engineering tactics have historically been among the most damaging threats to organizations. Phishing attacks, for instance, still account for nearly 90% of all data breaches. It is crucial to educate employees about the different social engineering techniques used by attackers. By understanding the methods employed, individuals can become more cautious and better equipped to identify and respond appropriately to potential threats.

Strategies to Protect Against Social Engineering Attacks

Implementing a robust defense against social engineering attacks requires a multi-faceted approach that combines technological safeguards, employee awareness, and ongoing evaluation. Let’s delve into some top strategies to fortify your organization’s resilience against these attacks:

Employee Training and Awareness – Education is the foundation of any effective security program. Conduct regular training sessions to raise awareness about social engineering tactics. It is also important to teach employees how to recognize and respond to potential threats. Cover topics such as identifying phishing emails, suspicious phone calls, and the importance of verifying requests for sensitive information.

This training program must be engaging for the audience, and you should refresh content on an annual basis. Our recommendation is to implement a training program that covers roughly 5-10 minutes worth of information each month. With a program that utilizes short training sessions, you increase the likelihood of the staff completing the lesson. And making it an ongoing program, with monthly lessons, you keep the topics fresh in the mind of your staff.

Strong Password Hygiene – Encourage employees to use strong, unique passwords for each account and enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) wherever possible. Implement a password management policy that enforces yearly password changes and prohibits the use of easily guessable passwords. Many organizations have started utilizing passphrases to ensure complexity and limit guess-ability.

A passphrase is essentially a 15+ character phrase that is relatively random, making it hard to guess. When this is updated annually, it can remove the ability for a super-computer to hack it through brute force. A quick example – if you think pickles are the most disgusting thing on earth, then maybe try IloveEatingP1ckles!. The chances of someone guessing that phrase is extremely small. Yes, there is a chance a super-computer can hack it through brute force and dictionary attacks, but it would take an excessively long time. Not to mention, that is a highly unlikely scenario for the majority of people.

Incident Response Plan – Develop and regularly update an incident response plan that outlines the steps to be taken in case of a social engineering attack. This plan should include clear roles and responsibilities, communication protocols, and steps to mitigate the impact of an attack. Conduct periodic drills and simulations to test the effectiveness of the plan. The best route for drills/simulations is starting annual tabletop exercises. These tabletops can be approached like a wargame, where a scenario is played out (like a ransomware attack), and the staff has to discuss the best approach to mitigate the incident.

Secure IT Infrastructure – Ensure that your organization’s IT infrastructure is protected by robust firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and up-to-date antivirus software. Regularly patch and update all software to address vulnerabilities that could be exploited by attackers. This is a must for every program. Updating your software regularly will always be one of the most important steps in any information security program.

Restrict Access – Implement the principle of least privilege, granting employees access only to the resources necessary to perform their jobs. Regularly review and remove unnecessary access privileges to minimize the potential attack surface. If a user’s account is hacked, this will drastically decrease the visibility the attacker will have inside your infrastructure.

Create a Culture of Security – Foster a culture of security within your organization by promoting open communication channels, encouraging employees to report suspicious incidents, and rewarding good security practices. Make security awareness a part of your organization’s values and instill a sense of responsibility in every employee.


Building resilience against social engineering attacks is an ongoing process that requires a combination of technological defenses and educated employees. By understanding social engineering techniques and implementing comprehensive security measures, businesses in the Dayton area can protect their valuable data, preserve customer trust, and strengthen their overall cybersecurity posture. Remember, staying ahead of cyber threats is an ongoing battle, and continuous education and adaptation are key to mitigating the threats facing your organization.

If you have any questions regarding how to implement an information security program for your business, please contact us right away.