Most people think that cyber geniuses can break into any system. However, most hacks are pulled off by attackers who don’t much about the internal working of the computer. Social engineering is one of the easiest attacks to pull off. You don’t need to worry about understanding everything about your system. Attackers will try to manipulate you into a certain response. In this article, we are going to talk about social engineering attacks.
What is social engineering?
Social engineering has a broad definition. However, the idea is to exploit how users think. The scammer will try to manipulate a user into doing something specific. They will generally try to corrupt the data of your company to hurt your company. Attackers will also try to directly steal money or data from your employees.
Attackers will try to hide both their motive and identity. They will try to exploit another person for their gain. Attackers will use human emotions for motivating people to do what they want them to do. In other words, attackers will use different techniques to gain your trust. Once they have your trust they will exploit it for their own gain.
How does Social engineering attack work?
There are a few steps that are the same in every social engineering attack. The entire attack has a circular process. First, attackers will gather information about your company or employees. The first step is always an investigation.
Attackers will then try to infiltrate your company network. They will try to establish a relationship with the user. The attack is advanced by exploiting this trust. Once the user has taken the desired action the attacker will disengage.
Attackers might use a fake email or phone call for tricking your employees. They can also use social media conversations for tricking users. Sometimes it can be an in-person affair also. This is very rare as attackers don’t want to leak their identity. For example, an attacker might look over your employee’s shoulder for watching their keystrokes.
The attacker will look for your passwords. Once they have got the password the attacker will cut off the communication. They might be looking for downloading malware in your system.
The attack is generally not immediately detected. Maybe the hacker got access to a key. They might use it after some time. Thus, your employees won’t know about the attack. They will continue their daily activities and attackers will get access to all the latest data.
Social Engineering Tactics, Techniques, and Examples
We are going to start with definitions. After that, we will share some real-world examples. This will ensure that you properly understand the definition of social engineering attacks. Some common types of attacks are:
- Email Spamming: Most people already understand that they should avoid spam. However, some messages can slip through. Thus, attackers are still using email spamming for targeting users.
- Phishing: A phishing scam mainly relies on sending emails to your employees and asking for their personal data.
- Baiting: In this attacker will try to use an external device for installing malware in your system. However, this can also refer to attackers that are trying to trick your users into believing something.
- Vishing: This is also known as voice phishing. In this, the scammer will impersonate a legit phone number. The scammer will pretend to be a friend of your employee. Thus, your employee might give them valuable information.
- Smishing: In this, attackers will use text messages or SMS to initiate the phishing attack. Most people generally trust their devices. Thus, this is a very effective technique for tricking users.
- Pretexting: This is a term used for referring to attackers that are pretending to be someone else. Their main aim is to gain financial information to a Social Security number.
The most important thing about social engineering is that the scam should look credible. The attacker will try to bypass their malware from advanced antivirus software. They will generally use personal data or human nature to trick the antivirus.
For example, your first thought when you see a USB device on the ground is that maybe someone lost it. Thus, you might plug it into your system. This can be a huge mistake as attackers might trick you with that USB device. That USB device can have malware that can affect your system.
Someone might tell you on social media that you have won a new iPhone. They might reach out to you on social media and tell you that you have been chosen to get their latest product.
Attackers also use fake email address to trick users. They will use your company name and then send ransomware to you. You will think that someone from your company is sending you an email. Thus, you will open the email without verifying.
An attacker can also pretend to be an IT support guy. They will ask your employee for their login credentials for solving a problem. This tactic will create a sense of urgency. Your employees will think that this is very important. Thus, they will share the information without contacting your IT team. Your employees should ideally check with the IT team first.
How to prevent a Social Engineering attack?
It is impossible to prevent your computer systems from all types of attacks. You can provide all the security awareness training to your employees. However, still attackers can come up with a brilliant plan to trick your employees.
You can still reduce the odds of a successful social engineering attack by following some tips. In this list, we will give you tips that will help your employees in avoiding social engineering attacks. These tips will also help you in preventing social engineering attacks.
Don’t click on unknown links
Links are generally very tempting. We want to click on them whenever we see a link in a text message or email. However, your employees should know how to resist the urge to click on links. It is important to ensure that your employees are checking the source of every link. You should use URL scanners for checking the authenticity of the link. This will ensure that you are clicking on legit links.
Implement Multi-factor authentication
MFA or Multi-factor authentication will help you in reducing the probability of a successful social engineering attack. Most employees will use the same password again and again. They are not going to generate a unique password for your platform. The best way to prevent a social engineering attack is by using MFA.
If you are using MFA, then you don’t need to worry about weak passwords. Attackers can’t access your employee’s account even if they get access to your employee account password. They need to provide a one-time password for accessing your employee accounts. You can also use biometric identification for protecting your user account.
Your employees are getting paid to do their jobs. They are not going to learn about the latest trends of hackers. Your normal employees won’t know about the latest attacks that attackers are using.
However, you should still provide regular training to your employees. This will ensure that your employees know about the best security practices. The immediate response to any email or text asking for personal data is to deny. Your employees should contact your IT team if they receive an email where someone is asking for personal data.
Protect your important assets
Attackers will always go for the most prized information in a social engineering attack. This can be anything from passwords to credit card numbers. You should ensure that you are implementing additional layers of security for protecting your most important data. If you are prioritizing security according to the critical assets, then it will be easier to protect your data.
You can start by creating a list of all the important assets. This will help you in prioritizing your security in the future. You should constantly monitor your systems for attacks. Make sure that you are dealing with emerging vulnerabilities.
The best way to protect your network is by monitoring it regularly. However, this is a very hard task for SMBs. Thus, you should consider working with a good MSP. Experienced MSPs like Bleuwire will help you in monitoring your network. This will ensure that you don’t need to worry about monitoring your network. Bleuwire will use the best network monitoring tools for scanning your network. They will look for errors in your network.
You should focus on protecting your employees from attackers. If you can prevent cybercriminals’ emails, then you don’t need to worry about social engineering attacks. A firewall will help you in preventing attacks. It will also alert you about the potential threats that are present in your network.
Firewalls can help you in blocking data packets. This will ensure that you can prevent bad data packets.
Use a VPN
Most employees are working remotely from their homes. You should focus on protecting your communications. One of the best ways to prevent this problem is by using a VPN or Virtual private network. VPN will help you in encrypting your sensitive information. It will provide a secure tunnel to your users.
There are various VPNs available in the market. You can even use a free VPN for protecting your employees. However, these free VPNs will come with limited features. If you really want to protect your employees, then you should go for a paid VPN. This will ensure that you will get access to the best security features. It will help you in protecting your remote employees from attackers.
You should look for gaps in your IT security strategy. This can be done by using a vulnerability scanner. Vulnerability scanners will help you in scanning your network. It will help you in finding vulnerabilities in your network.
A penetration tester will use the vulnerability scanner for finding vulnerabilities in your network. If the tester can access your critical systems, then it is time to upgrade your IT security. You should focus on updating your software and using the best IT security tools for protecting your network. Testing can help you in finding bugs in your network. This will ensure that you can prevent malicious code from breaking your network.
Turn on spam filters
Spam filters won’t help you in catching every malicious email or link. It will help you in flagging certain messages as malicious emails. Spam filters will help you in cutting down your inbox clog. This will ensure that your employees can focus on the data that really matter. You should focus on using better spam filters. This will actually help you in preventing social engineering attacks.
Verify Phone calls
It is difficult to check who’s on the other side of the call. However, there are few clues that your employees can look for. If your employees think that the person on the other side is fishy, then they should ask for their identity. Most people will never ask about your credit card numbers and passwords on a call. If someone is asking for your personal information, then you should verify the phone call.
If your employees are aware of social engineering attacks, then you can easily avoid this attack. You should provide the best tools to your employees. These tools will help your employees in making smarter decisions. The best way to avoid social engineering attacks is by training your employees. Your employees should know about the best security practices.
You can avoid this problem by working with a good MSP. Experienced MSPs like Bleuwire are providing IT security services to SMBs. They will help you in creating an IT security strategy for your business. You don’t need to worry about hiring IT security experts. Bleuwire will give you access to the best IT talent. They will also help you in training your employees about the latest IT security strategies. This will also help you in achieving compliance. If you need more information regarding IT security services, then you can contact Bleuwire.