Most people are familiar with concepts like malware and phishing, but did you know they are both components of a larger strategy known as social engineering? Hackers have used this deception for years to trick people into disclosing vital information about themselves or their places of employment.
Social engineering has entered a new phase as technology continues to take center stage in our lives. Crooks can gather information through different channels, including pop-up ads, emails, and public Wi-Fi networks. The main goal is to persuade, deceive, or con users into disclosing confidential information or insider access within a company. If you don’t pay attention, you will fall prey to what they are doing right in front of your eyes.
Creating external risks is becoming the standard for social engineers as technology takes center stage in most businesses. By using technology to manipulate individuals, they can access vital corporate operations. Social engineers have a wide range of strategies at their disposal.
Let’s look at some ways they achieve this:
A hacker uses physical baiting by dropping a thumb drive off at a business, then waiting for a staff member to pick it up and insert it into a computer, either out of curiosity or under the simple assumption that a coworker has left something behind. However, as soon as it gets plugged in, malware will upload itself onto your computer.
This scam may be an intriguing advertisement that piques the curiosity of the end user. “Congratulations! You’ve just won a prize!” will probably get opened when it is the subject of an email. “Scareware” tricks users into believing their system is infected with malware by displaying messages such as “Your computer is infected—Click here to activate virus protection.” By clicking on it, you unknowingly download malware to your computer. Usually, you can steer clear of these circumstances if you know what types of malware you’re looking for.
Phishing is one of the most common social engineering scams. This trap is rather generic and typically takes the form of an email. They frequently request the user to update their email address or login to check for a breach of a policy. The email will appear professional and perhaps direct you to a website that resembles one you may often visit. Personal information you fill in gets sent directly to the hacker. You are now the victim of the oldest online scam ever.
Spear phishing is a highly specialized scam, like generic phishing. Hackers need more time and effort to accomplish it, but users can’t discern the difference when they see it. To disguise the attack from the user, they frequently change their communications based on traits, job titles, and web pages of their victims’ email contacts. This attack could take the shape of an email sent while pretending to be your IT specialist, complete with the identical signature and even cc’s to coworkers. Although it will appear authentic, when you click on a link or open an attachment, malware will infect and corrupt your machine and possibly your entire network.
Tailgating is acting like an employee who forgot their access permit at home so they can enter a building without one. They merely require confidence as proof. This scam may also involve a hacker pretending to be an IT expert and duping people into thinking they are one to get access to restricted areas. It’s much simpler than it seems. Company shirts can be available at the neighborhood thrift shop. Hackers might get access with only a company shirt and confidence.
Being informed about social engineering will help you avoid it. Given the ways hackers can use stolen data against you, individuals and corporations must receive training on these risks. If an email appears authentic but is a little questionable, go to the source and confirm that they sent it. Multi-factor authentication, or 2-FA, can also significantly reduce fraud. User credentials are among the most valuable data that attackers want. If they compromise your system, using multifactor authentication helps ensure the security of your data. If a deal appears too good to be true, it probably is.
Use common sense and your best judgment. Social engineers have become very skilled at what they do, but that’s okay because you have also become alerted to what you can do to defeat these cunning hackers. Contact us if you have any questions! We’ve also created a FREE guide on how to avoid phishing attacks, download it here!