How Can You Protect Yourself From Social Engineering

Can you protect yourself from social engineering?

How can I keep my data secure? – There are several ways to protect yourself and your data from social engineering. Be cautious of emails that try to pressure you into taking immediate action. Double check the source of your emails and be aware of suspicious links included—as well as dubious offers.

  • Never let yourself be pressured into taking immediate action.
  • On top of that, you may want to install high-quality antivirus software or firewall protection on all your devices.
  • Create a unique password for each account.
  • We also recommend you use 2-factor authentication for secure login.
  • This will make it harder for scammers to hack your account—even if they do guess your password.

If you received a fraudulent email or text message, contact the company’s customer support as soon as possible so they can warn other customers. You can reach our Customer Support team directly through your N26 app or via email ([email protected]) to report any such attack.

How can social engineering be protected against?

Secure your devices – It’s also important to secure devices so that a social engineering attack, even if successful, is limited in what it can achieve. The basic principles are the same, whether it’s a smartphone, a basic home network or a major enterprise system.

Keep your anti-malware and anti-virus software up to date, This can help prevent malware that comes through phishing emails from installing itself. to keep your network and data secure. Keep software and firmware regularly updated, particularly security patches. Don’t run your phone rooted, or your network or PC in administrator mode, Even if a social engineering attack gets your user password for your ‘user’ account, it won’t let them reconfigure your system or install software on it. Don’t use the same password for different accounts. If a social engineering attack gets the password for your social media account, you don’t want them to be able to unlock all of your other accounts too. For critical accounts, use two-factor authentication so that just having your password isn’t enough to access the account. That might involve voice recognition, use of a security device, fingerprinting, or SMS confirmation codes. If you just gave away your password to an account and think you may have been ‘engineered’, change the password straight away. Keep yourself informed about new cybersecurity risks by becoming a regular reader of, You’ll then know all about new methods of attack as they emerge, making you much less likely to become a victim.

What is social engineering and how do you avoid it?

What is Social Engineering | Attack Techniques & Prevention Methods Social engineering is the term used for a broad range of malicious activities accomplished through human interactions. It uses psychological manipulation to trick users into making security mistakes or giving away sensitive information. Social Engineering Attack Lifecycle What makes social engineering especially dangerous is that it relies on human error, rather than vulnerabilities in software and operating systems. Mistakes made by legitimate users are much less predictable, making them harder to identify and thwart than a malware-based intrusion.

What is the best defense for social engineering?

One of the best methods of defense against social engineering is placing limits on the access each team member has in the system. Controlling the entirety of the system is much more manageable when only one component is under threat.

Does social engineering happen in person?

Social Engineering Definition – Social engineering is a manipulation technique that exploits human error to gain private information, access, or valuables. In cybercrime, these “human hacking” scams tend to lure unsuspecting users into exposing data, spreading malware infections, or giving access to restricted systems.

  • Attacks can happen online, in-person, and via other interactions.
  • Scams based on social engineering are built around how people think and act.
  • As such, social engineering attacks are especially useful for manipulating a user’s behavior.
  • Once an attacker understands what motivates a user’s actions, they can deceive and manipulate the user effectively.

In addition, hackers try to exploit a user’s lack of knowledge. Thanks to the speed of technology, many consumers and employees aren’t aware of certain threats like drive-by downloads, Users also may not realize the full value of personal data, like their phone number.

  1. Sabotage: Disrupting or corrupting data to cause harm or inconvenience.
  2. Theft: Obtaining valuables like information, access, or money.

This social engineering definition can be further expanded by knowing exactly how it works.

What makes people vulnerable to social engineering?

What Personality Types Are Most Resilient To Social Engineering? – Conscientious people are less susceptible to social engineering attacks. This personality trait tends to be more thorough and thinks through the actions they take or the decisions they make.

What is a defense against social engineering?

Security awareness training – Security awareness education should be an ongoing activity at any company. Staff members may simply not be aware of the dangers of social engineering, or if they are, they may forget the details over time. Conducting, and continuously refreshing, security awareness among employees is the first line of defense against social engineering.

What is social engineering weakness?

What is social engineering? – Social engineering refers to the possibility of getting confidential information and data from person to person on a social level. The weak point here is therefore not of a technical nature, but the human being who is manipulated with partly psychological tricks.

People want to avoid anger and conflicts in principle People would like to help other people People like to be respected People have the need to trust other people.

Social Engineers make use of these features (and some more) in a targeted way, for example by using: to appeal to the Assistance : I am a colleague from the marketing department. I just need to answer a quick e-mail. My PC has already been shut down. Can I use your computer for a moment while you’re taking a break? to flatter someone: I am a journalist and write about creative entrepreneurs in the FinTec area.

How powerful is social engineering?

What is Social Engineering? | IBM What is social engineering? Subscribe to the IBM newsletter Explore IBM Security QRadar Social engineering attacks manipulate people into sharing information they shouldn’t share, downloading software they shouldn’t download, visiting websites they shouldn’t visit, sending money to criminals, or making other mistakes that compromise their personal or organizational security.

Because social engineering uses psychological manipulation and exploits human error or weakness rather than technical or digital system vulnerabilities, it is sometimes called ‘human hacking.’ An email that seems to be from a trusted coworker requesting sensitive information, a threatening voicemail claiming to be from the IRS, an offer of riches from a foreign potentate—these are just a few examples of social engineering.

Cybercriminals frequently use social engineering tactics to obtain personal data or financial information—login credentials, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, Social Security numbers—they can use for identity theft, enabling them to make purchases with using peoples’ money or credit, apply for loans in other someone else’s name, apply for other peoples’ unemployment benefits, and more.

  1. But a social engineering attack can also be the first stage of a larger-scale,
  2. For example, a cybercriminal might trick a victim into sharing a username and password—and then use those credentials to plant on the victim’s employer’s network.
  3. Social engineering is attractive to cybercriminals because it enables them to access digital networks, devices and accounts without having to do the difficult technical work of getting around firewalls, antivirus software and other controls.

This is one reason social engineering is the leading cause of network compromise today, according to ISACA’s (link resides outside IBM.com). And according to IBM’s report, breaches caused by social engineering tactics (such as phishing and business email compromise) were among the most costly.

Posing as a trusted brand : Scammers often impersonate, or ‘spoof,’ companies that victims know, trust and perhaps do business with often or regularly—so regularly that they follow instructions from these brands reflexively, without taking the proper precautions. Some social engineering scammers use widely-available kits for staging fake web sites that resemble those of major brands or companies. Posing as a government agency or authority figure : People trust, respect or fear authority (in varying degrees). Social engineering attacks play on these instincts with messages that appear or claim to be from government agencies (e.g. the FBI or IRS), political figures, or even celebrities. Inducing fear or a sense of urgency : People tend to act rashly when scared or hurried. Social engineering scams can use any number of techniques to induce fear or urgency in victims—telling the victim that a recent credit transaction was not approved, that a virus has infected their computer, that an image used on their web site violates a copyright, etc. Social engineering can also appeal to victims’ fear of missing out (FOMO), which creates a different kind of urgency. Appealing to greed : The Nigerian Prince scam—an email in which someone claiming to be a Nigerian royal trying to flee his country offers a giant financial reward in exchange for the recipient’s bank account information or a small advance fee—is one of the best-known examples of social engineering that appeals to greed. (It also comes from an alleged authority figure, and creates a sense of urgency—a powerful combination.) This scam is as old as email itself, yet as of 2018 was still raking in USD 700,000 per year. Appealing to helpfulness or curiosity : Social engineering ploys can also appeal to victims’ better nature. For instance, a message that appears to be from a friend or a social networking site can offer technical help, ask for participation in a survey, claim the recipients’ post has gone viral—and provide a spoofed link to a fake website or download.

Types of social engineering attacks attacks are digital or voice messages that try to manipulate recipients into sharing sensitive information, downloading malicious software, transferring money or assets to the wrong people, or taking some other damaging action.

Bulk phishing emails are sent to millions of recipients at a time. They appear to be sent by a large, well-known business or organization—a national or global bank, a large online retailer, a popular online payments provider, etc.—and make a generic request such as ‘ we’re having trouble processing your purchase, please update your credit information,’ Frequently, these messages include a malicious link that takes the recipient to a fake web site that captures the recipient’s username, password, credit card data and more. targets a specific individual, typically one with privileged access to user information, the computer network, or corporate funds. A scammer will research the target—often using information found on LinkedIn, Facebook or other social media—to create a message that appears to come from someone the target knows and trusts, or that refers to situations with which the target is familiar. is a spear phishing attack that targets a high-profile individual, such as a CEO or political figure. In, the hacker uses compromised credentials to send email messages from an authority figure’s actual email account, making the scam that much more difficult to detect. Voice phishing, or vishing, is phishing conducted via phone calls. Individuals typically experience vishing in the form of threatening recorded calls claiming to be from the FBI. But IBM’s X-Force recently determined that adding vishing to a targeted phishing campaign can increase the campaign’s success up to 3x. SMS phishing, or, is phishing via text message. Search engine phishing involves hackers creating malicious websites that rank high in search results for popular search terms. Angler phishing is phishing via fake social media accounts that masquerade as the official account of trusted companies’ customer service or customer support teams.

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According to the, phishing is the leading malware infection vector, identified in 41% of all incidents. And according to the Cost of a Data Breach 2022 report, phishing is the initial attack vector leading to the most costly,

Who is the most likely target of social engineering?

Who Are the Main Targets of Social Engineering Attacks? – The goal of every social engineering attack is to gain access to sensitive information such as bank accounts, company data, or Social Security numbers, The more access someone has to what criminals want, the more attractive that target becomes. Victims of social engineering attacks are most often:

  • High-worth individuals, high-profile employees, and high-level leaders. Criminals target people with high levels of access. That’s why CEO fraud is now a $12 billion scam, It’s always a good idea to set up fraud monitoring to alert you if anyone has gained access to your personal financial accounts. ‍
  • Popular online personalities. People who share more personal information online are more likely to be targets. If your spouse has 50k Instagram followers, or your child is a top video game streamer, they could be targets. ‍
  • Younger generations and employees who are uninformed about cybersecurity threats. One study revealed that 45% of millennial employees don’t know what phishing is, even though it’s the #1 type of social engineering attack. To make matters worse, only 27% of companies provide social engineering awareness training,

These groups aren’t the only people who are targeted by scammers. The truth is that anyone can become the victim of a social engineering attack. Related: The 10 Biggest Instagram Scams Happening Right Now →

What is an example of social engineering?

Social engineering is the art of manipulating, influencing, or deceiving you in order to gain control over your computer system. The hacker might use the phone, email, snail mail or direct contact to gain illegal access. Phishing, spear phishing, and CEO Fraud are all examples.

How do people do social engineering?

How Does Social Engineering Happen? – Social engineering happens because of the human instinct of trust. Cyber criminals have learned that a carefully worded email, voicemail, or text message can convince people to transfer money, provide confidential information, or download a file that installs malware on the company network.

Thanks to careful spear phishing research, the cyber criminal knows the company CEO is traveling. An email is sent to a company employee that looks like it came from the CEO. There is a slight discrepancy in the email address, but the spelling of the CEO’s name is correct. In the email, the employee is asked to help the CEO by transferring $500,000 to a new foreign investor. The email uses urgent yet friendly language, convincing the employee that he will be helping both the CEO and the company. The email stresses that the CEO would do this transfer herself, but she can’t make the fund transfer in time to secure the foreign investment partnership since she is traveling. Without verifying the details, the employee decides to act. He truly believes that he is helping the CEO, the company, and colleagues by complying with the email request. A few days later, the victimized employee, CEO, and company colleagues realize they’ve been the targets of a social engineering attack, resulting in a loss of $500,000.

What is the first line of defense against social engineering attacks?

Forewarned and Forearmed – No matter the level of buy-in (or budget) you receive, there are a variety of tools and resources, ranging from freeware to paid services, available to design and run simulated social engineering attacks today. A couple of examples are the (SET) and for Office.

Even a program to simply raise awareness, such as sending out updates on recent social engineering exploits or adding a brief presentation to new-employee orientation, can help reduce the risk of a successful attack. is another route that may up-level social engineering awareness; a number of vendors and organizations offer platforms and tools for this purpose.

Especially in this era of an increasingly hybrid workforce, an awareness-building program—no matter its size or scope—becomes even more important. Employees are the first line of defense against these exploits, and education is the key to arming them against social engineering.

What is the most popular form of social engineering attacks?

1. Phishing – Phishing is the most common type of social engineering attack, typically using spoofed email addresses and links to trick people into providing login credentials, credit card numbers, or other personal information. Variations of phishing attacks include:

Angler phishing – using spoofed customer service accounts on social media Spear phishing – phishing attacks that target specific organizations or individuals

What is the most common method for social engineering attacks?

Phishing – The most common form of social engineering attack is phishing. Phishing attacks exploit human error to harvest credentials or spread malware, usually via infected email attachments or links to malicious websites.

Why do people social engineer?

What is social engineering? – Social engineering is an attack vector that relies heavily on human interaction and often involves manipulating people into breaking normal security procedures and best practices to gain unauthorized access to systems, networks or physical locations or for financial gain.

  • Threat actors use social engineering techniques to conceal their true identities and motives, presenting themselves as trusted individuals or information sources.
  • The objective is to influence, manipulate or trick users into releasing sensitive information or access within an organization.
  • Many social engineering exploits rely on people’s willingness to be helpful or fear of punishment.

For example, the attacker might pretend to be a co-worker who has some kind of urgent problem that requires access to additional network resources. Social engineering is a popular tactic among attackers because it is often easier to exploit people than it is to find a network or software vulnerability. Social engineering is an attack vector largely dependent on human interaction.

What are signs of social engineering?

Unexpected emails, phone calls, and voice or text messages. Follow your organization’s security policies for handling suspicious correspondences. Urgent requests to take an action. Never act on emotion and take the time to verify the request is legitimate.

How common are social engineering attacks?

Social engineering is a prevalent threat, with 90% of data breaches having social engineering components and 62% of businesses experiencing attacks in 2018.

Why do people fall for social engineering attacks?

This article spreads awareness and understanding of what goes into a social engineering attack to prevent the public from being a victim. Listening to news events where a Qatari Man paid up more than half a million dollars to three Nigerian men posing as the daughter-in-law of a deceased leader, you often wonder how could anyone fall for something like that.

What we fail to realize is that even though we might be the most tech-savvy person, even clicking a harmless link or downloading an attachment that seems to be from a known friend could trap you into a social engineering attack. This is because the perpetrator believes that they can gain your trust and confidence by sending the mail through a familiar person or giving the appearance of an authorized site.

The Game Plan Social engineers who plan these attacks rely on the vulnerabilities of human beings which means that they take advantage of a person’s emotions or state of mind to get their way. They usually monitor the person they plan to fool well in advance so that they can be familiar with them and be confident while interacting to put them at ease.

  • For example: to gain information on your bank account, a social engineer could create a fake banking email address and use an official tone and banking language.
  • He may even create a sense of urgency suggesting criticality of information for the safety of your finances.
  • This puts you under pressure to give in and share the needed information.

If you are not alert you could be easy prey. There have been instances when people have secured educational loans from banks by stealing the identities of bright students. Recent years have also seen schools and universities under cyber-attack. An academic institution had its Internet technology database hacked and they had to recommend to the staff and students to reset their passwords.

  1. Another large university had its personal information records hacked.
  2. It could be a phony email pretending to be the Dean of the University asking one of its IT staff to reset his password through the university’s secure confidential site.
  3. A less vigilant member of staff could have succumbed to it giving access to the intruder.

There is no place that is 100% secure; be it school, home, or even on the playground, you have to be alert for an attack anywhere. Parents should advise children not to respond to any unknown person who uses their name or narrates tales of them being involved in an accident to take them home.

  1. Be it in the physical world or in the online world alertness is the key to preventing such incidents.
  2. Online social media sites are a popular hangout for youngsters, be it Facebook, Twitter, or another.
  3. They are always eager to be updated with the latest ‘in-thing’.
  4. Social Engineers rely on the eager and curious nature of teenagers to engage them in a security breach.

They either promise them the latest application download for free in exchange for certain information or pretend to be a friend to compromise their secure information. As responsible parents, teachers, and students, an awareness and understanding of what goes into a social engineering attack can prevent one from being a victim.

What could make you the victim of social engineering?

What is a social engineering attack? – A social engineering attack is a malicious attack which typically involves some form of psychological manipulation, specifically fooling otherwise unsuspecting users or employees into handing over confidential or sensitive data.

  • Commonly, social engineering involves email or other communication that invokes urgency, fear, or similar emotions in the victim, leading the victim to promptly reveal sensitive information, click a malicious link, or open a malicious file.
  • Because social engineering involves a human element and human error, preventing these attacks, like preventing a phishing attack, can be challenging for enterprises.

Read more about social engineering attacks in our article on social engineering, We wanted to educate companies, employees, and end users on how to better recognize social engineering efforts and prevent these attacks from succeeding. To uncover some of the most common social engineering attacks being used against modern enterprises and get tips on how to avoid them, we asked a panel of data security experts and business leaders to answer the following question:

What are three human characteristics that are exploited in social engineering?

Social engineering is the art of exploiting human psychology, rather than technical hacking techniques, to gain access to buildings, systems, or data. Train yourself to spot the signs. Social engineering is the art of exploiting human psychology, rather than technical hacking techniques, to gain access to buildings, systems, or data.

For example, instead of trying to find a software vulnerability, a social engineer might call an employee and pose as an IT support person, trying to trick the employee into divulging his password. Famous hacker Kevin Mitnick helped popularize the term ‘social engineering’ in the ’90s, although the idea and many of the techniques have been around as long as there have been scam artists.

Even if you’ve got all the bells and whistles when it comes to securing your data center, your cloud deployments, your building’s physical security, and you’ve invested in defensive technologies, have the right security policies and processes in place and measure their effectiveness and continuously improve, still a crafty social engineer can weasel his way right through (or around).

  1. The phrase “social engineering” encompasses a wide range of behaviors, and what they all have in common is that they exploit certain universal human qualities: greed, curiosity, politeness, deference to authority, and so on.
  2. While some classic examples of social engineering take place in the “real world”—a man in a FedEx uniform bluffing his way into an office building, for example—much of our daily social interaction takes place online, and that’s where most social engineering attacks happen as well.

For instance, you might not think of phishing or smishing as types of social engineering attacks, but both rely on tricking you—by pretending to be someone you trust or tempting you with something you want—into downloading malware onto your device. This brings up another important point, which is that social engineering can represent a single step in a larger attack chain.

  • A smishing text uses social dynamics to entice you with a free gift card, but once you tap the link and download malicious code, your attackers will be using their technical skills to gain control of your device and exploit it.
  • A good way to get a sense of what social engineering tactics you should look out for is to know about what’s been used in the past.
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We’ve got all the details in an extensive article on the subject, but for the moment let’s focus on three social engineering techniques — independent of technological platforms — that have been successful for scammers in a big way. Offer something sweet.

As any con artist will tell you, the easiest way to scam a mark is to exploit their own greed. This is the foundation of the classic Nigerian 419 scam, in which the scammer tries to convince the victim to help get supposedly ill-gotten cash out of their own country into a safe bank, offering a portion of the funds in exchange.

These “Nigerian prince” emails have been a running joke for decades, but they’re still an effective social engineering technique that people fall for: in 2007 the treasurer of a sparsely populated Michigan county gave $1.2 million in public funds to such a scammer in the hopes of personally cashing in.

Another common lure is the prospect of a new, better job, which apparently is something far too many of us want: in a hugely embarrassing 2011 breach, the security company RSA was compromised when at least two low-level employees opened a malware file attached to a phishing email with the file name “2011 recruitment plan.xls.” Fake it till you make it.

One of the simplest — and surprisingly most successful — social engineering techniques is to simply pretend to be your victim. In one of Kevin Mitnick’s legendary early scams, he got access to Digital Equipment Corporation’s OS development servers simply by calling the company, claiming to be one of their lead developers, and saying he was having trouble logging in; he was immediately rewarded with a new login and password.

  1. This all happened in 1979, and you’d think things would’ve improved since then, but you’d be wrong: in 2016, a hacker got control of a U.S.
  2. Department of Justice email address and used it to impersonate an employee, coaxing a help desk into handing over an access token for the DoJ intranet by saying it was his first week on the job and he didn’t know how anything worked.

Many organizations do have barriers meant to prevent these kinds of brazen impersonations, but they can often be circumvented fairly easily. When Hewlett-Packard hired private investigators to find out which HP board members were leaking info to the press in 2005, they were able to supply the PIs with the last four digits of their targets’ social security number — which AT&T’s tech support accepted as proof of ID before handing over detailed call logs.

  1. Act like you’re in charge.
  2. Most of us are primed to respect authority — or, as it turns out, to respect people who act like they have the authority to do what they’re doing.
  3. You can exploit varying degrees of knowledge of a company’s internal processes to convince people that you have the right to be places or see things that you shouldn’t, or that a communication coming from you is really coming from someone they respect.

For instance, in 2015 finance employees at Ubiquiti Networks wired millions of dollars in company money to scam artists who were impersonating company executives, probably using a lookalike URL in their email address. On the lower tech side, investigators working for British tabloids in the late ’00s and early ’10s often found ways to get access to victims’ voicemail accounts by pretending to be other employees of the phone company via sheer bluffing; for instance, one PI convinced Vodafone to reset actress Sienna Miller’s voicemail PIN by calling and claiming to be “John from credit control.” Sometimes it’s external authorities whose demands we comply with without giving it much thought.

  1. Phishing, as we noted above, which also includes text-based smishing and voice-based vishing These attacks are often low-effort but widely spread; for instance, a phisher might send out thousands of identical emails, hoping someone will be gullible enough to click on the attachment.
  2. Spear phishing, or whaling, is a “high-touch” variation of phishing for high-value targets. Attackers spend time researching their victim, who’s usually a high-status person with a lot of money they can be separated from, in order to craft unique and personalized scam communications.
  3. Baiting is a key part of all forms of phishing and other scams as well—there’s always something to tempt the victim, whether a text with a promise of a free gift card or something much more lucrative or salacious.
  4. Pretexting involves creating a story, or pretext, to convince someone to give up valuable information or access to some system or account. A pretexter might manage to find some of your personally identifying information and use it to trick you—for instance, if they know what bank you use, they might call you up and claim to be a customer service rep who needs to know your account number to help with a late payment. Or they could use the information to imitate you—this was the technique used by those HP PIs we discussed above,
  5. Business email frauds combine several of the above techniques. An attacker either gains control of a victim’s email address or manages to send emails that look like they’re from that address, then start sending emails to subordinates at work requesting the transfer of funds to accounts they control.

The security company Norton has done a pretty good job of outlining some red flags that could be a sign of a social engineering attack, These apply across social and technological techniques, and are good to keep in the back of your mind as you try to stay on guard:

  • Someone you know sends an unusual message: Stealing or mimicking someone’s online identity and then mining their social circles is relatively easy for a determined attacker, so if you get a message from a friend, relative, or coworker that seems off, be very sure you’re really talking to them before you act on it. It’s possible that your granddaughter really is on a vacation she didn’t tell you about and needs money, or that your boss really does wants you to wire a six-figure sum to a new supplier in Belarus, but that’s something for you to triple-check before you hit send.
  • A stranger is making an offer that’s too good to be true: Again, we all laugh at the Nigerian prince emails, but many of us still fall for scams that trick us by telling us we’re about to get something we never expected and never asked for. Whether it’s an email telling you won a lottery you didn’t enter or a text from a weird number offering you a free gift card just for paying your phone bill on time, if it feels too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Your emotions are heightened and you have to act now: Social engineering scammers play on strong emotions—fear, greed, empathy—to inculcate a sense of urgency specifically so you don’t stop to think twice about scenarios like the ones we just outlined. A particularly pernicious technique in this realm is a tech support scam, which preys on people who are already nervous about hacks but not very tech savvy: you hear from an aggressive person who claims to be from Google or Microsoft, tells you that your system has been compromised, and demands that you change your passwords right away—tricking you into revealing your credentials to them in the process.

Fighting against all of these techniques requires vigilance and a zero-trust mindset. That can be difficult to inculcate in ordinary people; in the corporate world, security awareness training is the number one way to prevent employees from falling prey to high-stakes attacks.

Employees should be aware that social engineering exists and be familiar with the most commonly used tactics. Fortunately, social engineering awareness lends itself to storytelling. And stories are much easier to understand and much more interesting than explanations of technical flaws. Quizzes and attention-grabbing or humorous posters are also effective reminders about not assuming everyone is who they say they are.

But it isn’t just the average employee who needs to be aware of social engineering. As we saw, social engineers focus on high-value targets like CEOs and CFOs. Senior leadership often resists going to the trainings mandated for their employees, but they need to be aware of these attacks more than anyone.

  1. Train and train again when it comes to security awareness. Ensure that you have a comprehensive security awareness training program in place that is regularly updated to address both the general phishing threats and the new targeted cyberthreats. Remember, this is not just about clicking on links.
  2. Provide a detailed briefing “roadshow” on the latest online fraud techniques to key staff. Yes, include senior executives, but don’t forget anyone who has authority to make wire transfers or other financial transactions. Remember that many of the true stories involving fraud occur with lower-level staff who get fooled into believing an executive is asking them to conduct an urgent action — usually bypassing normal procedures and/or controls.
  3. Review existing processes, procedures, and separation of duties for financial transfers and other important transactions. Add extra controls, if needed. Remember that separation of duties and other protections may be compromised at some point by insider threats, so risk reviews may need to be reanalyzed given the increased threats.
  4. Consider new policies related to “out of band” transactions or urgent executive requests. An email from the CEO’s Gmail account should automatically raise a red flag to staff, but they need to understand the latest techniques being deployed by the dark side. You need authorized emergency procedures that are well-understood by all.
  5. Review, refine and test your incident management and phishing reporting systems. Run a tabletop exercise with management and with key personnel on a regular basis. Test controls and reverse-engineer potential areas of vulnerability.

ISACA’s latest report State of Security 2021, Part 2 (a survey of almost 3,700 global cybersecurity professionals) discovered that social engineering is the leading cause of compromises experienced by organizations, while PhishLabs’ Quarterly Threat Trends and Intelligence Report revealed a 22% increase in the volume of phishing attacks in the first half of this year compared to the same period in 2020.

  • Recent research by Gemini has also illustrated how cyber-criminals use social engineering techniques to bypass specific security protocols such as 3D Secure to commit payment fraud.
  • Social engineering attack trends are often cyclical, typically coming and going with regularity.
  • For Nader Henein, research vice president at Gartner, a significant trend is that social engineering has become a standard element of larger attack toolboxes, being deployed in combination with other tools against organizations and individuals in a professional and repeatable approach.

“Much of these capabilities, be it phishing or the use of deepfakes to convince or coerce targets, are being delivered in combination as-a-service, with service level agreements and support.” As a result, social engineering awareness and subsequent testing is increasingly required and present within security training at most organizations, he adds.

  1. Jack Chapman, vice president of threat intelligence at Egress, points to a recent rise in “missed messaging” social engineering attacks.
  2. This involves spoofing the account of a senior employee; the attacker will send a more junior colleague an email requesting that they send over a piece of completed work, such as a report,” he tells CSO.

To create additional pressure, the attacker will mention that the report was first requested in a fictional previous email, leading the recipient to believe that they’ve missed an email and haven’t completed an important task. “This is a highly effective way of generating urgency to respond, particularly in a remote work environment,” says Chapman.

Furthermore, attackers are increasingly exploiting flattery to encourage recipients to click their malicious links. “A surprising trend we’ve seen is hackers sending birthday cards. Attackers can use OSINT to find out when their victim’s birthday is and send a link to ‘view a birthday e-card’ that is actually a weaponized phishing link.

Often, the recipient doesn’t suspect a phishing attack because they’re too busy being flattered to have received a card on their birthday.” According to Neosec CISO Renan Feldman, most social engineering attacks today leverage exposed APIs. “Most attackers are seeking access to those APIs rather than access to a device or a network, because in today’s world the business runs on application platforms.

  • Moreover, breaching an API is much easier than penetrating an enterprise network and moving laterally to take over most or all key assets in it.
  • Thus, over the next couple of years, it’s likely we will see a rise in single extortion via APIs.
  • With more and more business data moving to APIs, organizations are tightening their anti-ransomware controls.” A number of vendors offer tools or services to help conduct social engineering exercises, and/or to build employee awareness via means such as posters and newsletters.
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Also worth checking out is social-engineer.org’s Social Engineering Toolkit, which is a free download. The toolkit helps automate penetration testing via social engineering, including spear phishing attacks, creation of legitimate-looking websites, USB drive-based attacks, and more.

  • Another good resource is The Social Engineering Framework,
  • Currently, the best defense against social engineering attacks is user education and layers of technological defenses to better detect and respond to attacks.
  • Detection of key words in emails or phone calls can be used to weed out potential attacks, but even those technologies will probably be ineffective in stopping skilled social engineers.

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Do social engineering attacks happen?

Roberto Rodriguez – @HumanFirewalls Roberto A. Rodriguez is the Head HumanFirewall at HumanFirewalls LLC. HumanFirewalls is an organization located in Delaware that prides itself on offering top of the line Security Services such as Security Awareness, Threat Intelligence, Network Security Monitoring, Compliance Management, Vulnerability Management, and Integrity Controls.

  1. Humanfirewalls understands that small/midsized companies rarely have the in-house expertise, the time, or the budget to implement the right security controls that could protect their organizations from threats that are now capable to avoid detection and bypass traditional security controls.
  2. The most common social engineering attacks made on companies are.

Phishing & Spear Phishing A Phishing email is a crafted email that pretends to be from a known trusted source and that could trick the user to download an attachment, click on a malicious link, or simply cooperate to provide sensitive information such as your passwords.

These emails, for example, can be sent to an entire organization without targeting specific people in the company. Spear Phishing emails, on the other hand, are emails that are crafted specifically for a few people in an organization that could have valuable information for an attacker. Phishing, in general, has been being used a lot for the past couple of years by cyber criminals to break into an organization.

Ranked #3 on the Verizon Report in 2014, it was made clear that cyber criminals are focusing more on the human factor instead of the technology in place.This is because it is not expensive to craft a phishing email. There are open source tools such as SET (Social Engineering Toolkit) that could help an attacker to circumvent high-end technology.

  • Spam filters are great, but they end up being a fundamental layer of security to an organization if the attacker knows how to trick the user into cooperating without making him or her click on a link.
  • One perfect example would be receiving an email from your bank asking you to call a number provided in the email to change your ATM PIN.

The cyber criminal provides a number where he is waiting to forward the communication to the real bank, but mirroring/capturing/sniffing the traffic or conversation that the user trusted the number in the email. How to prevent it? Companies must approach security with proactive security controls addressing the human factor.

Security Awareness Training programs are really helpful to reduce the risk of getting compromised and increase the level of awareness in the organization. Vishing (Voice and Phishing) This social-based attack tricks the user over the phone to reveal sensitive information regarding the organization. This one is very common in customer service departments, where they try to satisfy the customer over the phone and end up providing information that could be used to break into the network.

Information varies and could include names of possible targets, hours of operations, financial or personal information, and even password resets. How to prevent it? Extensive Security Awareness Training to ensure the user understands what type of information they are allowed to reveal.

  • Also, different technologies in places such as NAC solutions that limit the access to data that cannot be shared without authorization.
  • Tailgating or Piggybacking This is a social-based attack that involves an attacker without authorized access and an employee with a low level of awareness.
  • The way it works is by having the unaware user cooperate and provide the unauthorized person access to a restricted area.

This is common in many organizations, because there are always people such as delivery guys from different institutions dropping packages and interacting with unaware users, creating a level of comfort and making it a routine. Once again, technology such as swiping cards to get into elevators or open doors in big organizations not always work, and this is because all it takes is, “I forgot my badge, and I am late for a meeting.

Who is the most likely target of social engineering?

Who Are the Main Targets of Social Engineering Attacks? – The goal of every social engineering attack is to gain access to sensitive information such as bank accounts, company data, or Social Security numbers, The more access someone has to what criminals want, the more attractive that target becomes. Victims of social engineering attacks are most often:

  • High-worth individuals, high-profile employees, and high-level leaders. Criminals target people with high levels of access. That’s why CEO fraud is now a $12 billion scam, It’s always a good idea to set up fraud monitoring to alert you if anyone has gained access to your personal financial accounts. ‍
  • Popular online personalities. People who share more personal information online are more likely to be targets. If your spouse has 50k Instagram followers, or your child is a top video game streamer, they could be targets. ‍
  • Younger generations and employees who are uninformed about cybersecurity threats. One study revealed that 45% of millennial employees don’t know what phishing is, even though it’s the #1 type of social engineering attack. To make matters worse, only 27% of companies provide social engineering awareness training,

These groups aren’t the only people who are targeted by scammers. The truth is that anyone can become the victim of a social engineering attack. Related: The 10 Biggest Instagram Scams Happening Right Now →

How powerful is social engineering?

What is Social Engineering? | IBM What is social engineering? Subscribe to the IBM newsletter Explore IBM Security QRadar Social engineering attacks manipulate people into sharing information they shouldn’t share, downloading software they shouldn’t download, visiting websites they shouldn’t visit, sending money to criminals, or making other mistakes that compromise their personal or organizational security.

Because social engineering uses psychological manipulation and exploits human error or weakness rather than technical or digital system vulnerabilities, it is sometimes called ‘human hacking.’ An email that seems to be from a trusted coworker requesting sensitive information, a threatening voicemail claiming to be from the IRS, an offer of riches from a foreign potentate—these are just a few examples of social engineering.

Cybercriminals frequently use social engineering tactics to obtain personal data or financial information—login credentials, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, Social Security numbers—they can use for identity theft, enabling them to make purchases with using peoples’ money or credit, apply for loans in other someone else’s name, apply for other peoples’ unemployment benefits, and more.

  • But a social engineering attack can also be the first stage of a larger-scale,
  • For example, a cybercriminal might trick a victim into sharing a username and password—and then use those credentials to plant on the victim’s employer’s network.
  • Social engineering is attractive to cybercriminals because it enables them to access digital networks, devices and accounts without having to do the difficult technical work of getting around firewalls, antivirus software and other controls.

This is one reason social engineering is the leading cause of network compromise today, according to ISACA’s (link resides outside IBM.com). And according to IBM’s report, breaches caused by social engineering tactics (such as phishing and business email compromise) were among the most costly.

Posing as a trusted brand : Scammers often impersonate, or ‘spoof,’ companies that victims know, trust and perhaps do business with often or regularly—so regularly that they follow instructions from these brands reflexively, without taking the proper precautions. Some social engineering scammers use widely-available kits for staging fake web sites that resemble those of major brands or companies. Posing as a government agency or authority figure : People trust, respect or fear authority (in varying degrees). Social engineering attacks play on these instincts with messages that appear or claim to be from government agencies (e.g. the FBI or IRS), political figures, or even celebrities. Inducing fear or a sense of urgency : People tend to act rashly when scared or hurried. Social engineering scams can use any number of techniques to induce fear or urgency in victims—telling the victim that a recent credit transaction was not approved, that a virus has infected their computer, that an image used on their web site violates a copyright, etc. Social engineering can also appeal to victims’ fear of missing out (FOMO), which creates a different kind of urgency. Appealing to greed : The Nigerian Prince scam—an email in which someone claiming to be a Nigerian royal trying to flee his country offers a giant financial reward in exchange for the recipient’s bank account information or a small advance fee—is one of the best-known examples of social engineering that appeals to greed. (It also comes from an alleged authority figure, and creates a sense of urgency—a powerful combination.) This scam is as old as email itself, yet as of 2018 was still raking in USD 700,000 per year. Appealing to helpfulness or curiosity : Social engineering ploys can also appeal to victims’ better nature. For instance, a message that appears to be from a friend or a social networking site can offer technical help, ask for participation in a survey, claim the recipients’ post has gone viral—and provide a spoofed link to a fake website or download.

Types of social engineering attacks attacks are digital or voice messages that try to manipulate recipients into sharing sensitive information, downloading malicious software, transferring money or assets to the wrong people, or taking some other damaging action.

Bulk phishing emails are sent to millions of recipients at a time. They appear to be sent by a large, well-known business or organization—a national or global bank, a large online retailer, a popular online payments provider, etc.—and make a generic request such as ‘ we’re having trouble processing your purchase, please update your credit information,’ Frequently, these messages include a malicious link that takes the recipient to a fake web site that captures the recipient’s username, password, credit card data and more. targets a specific individual, typically one with privileged access to user information, the computer network, or corporate funds. A scammer will research the target—often using information found on LinkedIn, Facebook or other social media—to create a message that appears to come from someone the target knows and trusts, or that refers to situations with which the target is familiar. is a spear phishing attack that targets a high-profile individual, such as a CEO or political figure. In, the hacker uses compromised credentials to send email messages from an authority figure’s actual email account, making the scam that much more difficult to detect. Voice phishing, or vishing, is phishing conducted via phone calls. Individuals typically experience vishing in the form of threatening recorded calls claiming to be from the FBI. But IBM’s X-Force recently determined that adding vishing to a targeted phishing campaign can increase the campaign’s success up to 3x. SMS phishing, or, is phishing via text message. Search engine phishing involves hackers creating malicious websites that rank high in search results for popular search terms. Angler phishing is phishing via fake social media accounts that masquerade as the official account of trusted companies’ customer service or customer support teams.

According to the, phishing is the leading malware infection vector, identified in 41% of all incidents. And according to the Cost of a Data Breach 2022 report, phishing is the initial attack vector leading to the most costly,

What is social engineering weakness?

What is social engineering? – Social engineering refers to the possibility of getting confidential information and data from person to person on a social level. The weak point here is therefore not of a technical nature, but the human being who is manipulated with partly psychological tricks.

People want to avoid anger and conflicts in principle People would like to help other people People like to be respected People have the need to trust other people.

Social Engineers make use of these features (and some more) in a targeted way, for example by using: to appeal to the Assistance : I am a colleague from the marketing department. I just need to answer a quick e-mail. My PC has already been shut down. Can I use your computer for a moment while you’re taking a break? to flatter someone: I am a journalist and write about creative entrepreneurs in the FinTec area.