The Danger of Social Engineering to Watch Out For
Since the advent of computers and the beginning of internet development, programmers have tried their best to ensure computer security. But even today, no one has managed to achieve this 100%.
However, let’s imagine that this result is still achievable thanks to the most powerful cryptography, enhanced security protocols, reliable software, and other security elements. As a result, we get an absolutely secure network that we can safely work in.
We’ve collected all working security methods in one place here.
“Great!” you might say. “This thing is in the bag!” But you will be wrong because this is not enough. Any interaction between a person and a computer carries a risk, and the person is often the weakest link in the chain of security measures.
Did you know the importance of security measures on the net? We’ve prepared a full guide to this topic.
In the information age, manipulating people has become much easier. The methods used for this manipulation is called “social engineering.”
Today, we’ll consider this topic in detail.
What is social engineering?
Social engineering is a method of controlling a person’s actions without using technical means. And, as is customary with hackers, it is an attack on a person.
As usual, the method is used to gain access to various confidential information types: a page in a social network or secret documents of an organization. Social engineering is considered one of the most destructive and dangerous methods, as it can cause irreparable damage to an entire company. The method is based on the weaknesses of a person, their feelings or inexperience, often leading to harmful consequences.
The basis of social engineering is to mislead people. This may include impersonating another person, escalating a situation, or distracting attention. Social engineering is a very universal method, it can be applied to any system where there is a person involved.
Social engineering also makes it possible to learn information directly from a person and not have to search for vulnerabilities in the system. The only difficulty is to find the right approach for each person.
Follow the listed security posture methods to prevent data leaks.
What is an example of social engineering?
Do you agree that nothing can help you understand social engineering’s topic better than real examples that have occurred in the past? Let’s consider three examples.
- Offer something good.
Any scammer, regardless of their hacking experience, tells you that greed is the engine of scams. It was a key component that played into the effectiveness of the Nigerian scam 419. The scam’s essence was as follows: the hacker tried to convince the victim of the possibility of obtaining funds that needed to be transferred to a secure bank. For the appropriate help, the hacker promised a part of the money.
- Fake it till you make it.
In 2016, one of the hackers was able to gain control of the Justice Department server. After that, he began to pose as an employee of the organization, persuading the help desk to hand over the access token to the intranet of the Department of Justice, saying that he did not know how something works.
You can read more about Kevin Mitnick and other famous hackers here.
- Act like you’re in charge here.
Many of us mistakenly believe that if we receive an email from our bosses or higher authorities asking us to send a password or confidential data, we should do this as quickly as possible. However, this is an erroneous opinion. After all, our management’s email could have been hacked and used to ask for confidential data.
Hide from email bomb attack!
What are the six types of social engineering?
The most famous and well-known types of such an attack, we’ve listed below:
As a rule, phishing is carried out using email mailing lists. Such a letter may come from a payment service, a bank manager, or any other reputable organization. However, in the case of a phishing attack, the recipient will be fake. This is difficult to notice if you do not know about this method of fraud. By clicking on the link, the user enters personal data, and even bank card data, after which the hacker will reset the account and steal all the money.
You can find more information about phishing working methods here.
This method of fraud is carried out in the same way as phishing, through the mailing of email messages. As a rule, such messages contain additional attachments. For example, a link to download system updates, exciting news, and much more. By clicking on a file or link, the user’s computer is automatically infected with a virus or any other malicious program. There are two ways to save your computer and data: reinstall the OS or pay a hacker.
How to prevent viruses appearing on your computer. Follow the tips listed here.
Pretexting is a specific action performed according to a planned scenario. Its purpose is to get the necessary information from the user or to force him to perform a certain action. Typically, such attacks take the form of phone calls via Skype or Viber. However, in order for such an attack to succeed, it is necessary to conduct research in advance and learn a little about the victim of the attack: name, age, place of work, etc. This data is necessary for the user to believe the hacker.
- Quid Pro Quo
The “Quid Pro Quo” method is most often used to attack large companies. As a rule, a hacker calls one of the company’s employees and introduces himself as a technical support employee. After that, he says a pre-prepared text that the system has failed, and he needs the help of an employee to fix everything. To do this, he should enter certain confidential data.
If you want to distinguish all types of malware, you can read our article about them.
Tailgating is a type of social engineering that focuses on physical interaction with company employees. If an attacker wants to get the necessary information about a particular organization, they will monitor the company’s employees in the real world. After an employee uses an open Wi-Fi point in a café, a hacker can get any information, including confidential and personal data.
Find out more about Wi-Fi key security points here.
It helps to access any financial information. It appears on the screen as a pop-up window or a program that warns the user about the danger of identity theft.
As a rule, such threats are hidden under fake pages from the FBI or other government agencies. The main goal is to intimidate the user and give them a limited time to make a decision.
This type of attack is used to encourage users to click on the downloading button and upload malicious software to prevent any possible malware from infecting a device.
We’ve considered the topic of personal information on the internet. If you want to know more about it, you can read it here.
Protection from social engineering
The first defense against social engineering is reasonable skepticism and vigilance. Always pay attention to the sender of emails and the site’s address where you are going to enter some personal data.
Victims of cybercriminals are not only employees of companies and well-known persons but also ordinary users — a fraudster may want access to your page in a social network or an electronic wallet. If you get a call from a person who introduces himself as an employee of an organization or website, remember that to manipulate your account, as a rule, he does not need to know your confidential data — so do not disclose it yourself. The request to provide any personal information, such as passport data or bank accounts, should alert you. You are most often required to provide only the last few digits of this data, not the whole thing.
Find out the most secure email solutions for use in 2021.
Nice article! You could explain such a big theme like social engineering. Now, I’m really an expert in this topic. But, could you, please, tell us more about social engineering examples? Which tactics hackers frequently used?
Good afternoon, Bailey! Thank you for your feedback! In the near future, we’ll plan to publish an article where we’ve talked about various tactics of social engineering. Keep checking back for updates.
I didn’t think social engineering in cybersecurity was such a broad topic. However, it was very interesting to read about the different types of hacker tricks. I’ll be more careful now.
Good afternoon, Blake! We are glad that we were able to talk about social engineering in an accessible way. You can share the article on your social networks so that more people know about the real danger.
The article is very superficial. I would like more examples and real cases that occurred in real life. I think that there were really many cases of social engineering attacks. Write more about it. Plz
Good afternoon, Claire! To understand the essence of an attack without understanding its basic concept is foolish. In the near future, we’ll publish an article that will cover real tactics and cases of social engineering.
I’ve always considered the techniques of social engineering in the context of sales or psychology. It turns out that this topic has long been introduced into cyberspace. Hackers, of course, always come up with new ways to cheat us.
Good afternoon, Peter! You’re right! The topic of social engineering is really firmly embedded in cyberspace. According to these statistics, every 5 Internet users have experienced such an attack at least once.
Thanks for good article. Can I share it on my socials? This is the best article I’ve found in a long time. It should be published everywhere. Will there be more articles on this topic?
Hello, Nancy! Thank you for your support! Surely, you can share this article in your social media accounts to disseminate information about this social engineering danger.