What is Social Engineering and how to Protect Against it?

Social engineering attacks are manipulative tactics cybercriminals use to exploit human psychology and gain unauthorised access to sensitive information.

In recent studies, we have seen social engineering attacks increasing dramatically, with a 464% increase in email-based attacks when compared to 2022. But social engineering attacks don’t just target email users.

In this blog we’re going to cover the main types of attacks, what to look out for and how you can protect yourself / your business.

But why is this such an issue?

With the introduction of AI, emails and text scams are able to become much more complex, with 73% of employees expressing their concern for AI generated scams. Add that to the 1/5 employees that have already preciously fallen for a scam, without proper training that number would only rise.

With the amount of information about yourself available online, that is a huge wad of ammunition that a potential hacker could use on you / your business.

 Social Engineering

What types of Social Engineering Attacks are There?

Phishing Attacks

This involves cybercriminals posing as trustworthy entities, usually via email. They do this to deceive individuals into providing sensitive information like passwords, credit card details, or Social Security numbers.

These are attacks are dangerous because they prey on human trust and curiosity. If successful, attackers can gain unauthorised access to personal and financial accounts, leading to identity theft, financial loss, or even corporate data breaches.

Spear Phishing Attacks

Spear phishing is a targeted form of phishing where cybercriminals customise their deceptive messages for specific individuals or organisations. These emails often appear highly credible, increasing the likelihood of the victim falling for the scam.

Spear phishing attacks exploit personal details to craft convincing messages. Victims, often employees of a company, might unknowingly download malware, share confidential information, or initiate unauthorised transactions, jeopardising the security of an entire organisation.

Social Engineering via Vishing (Voice Phishing)

Vishing is a social engineering technique where attackers use voice communication (phone calls or VoIP) to deceive individuals into revealing sensitive information or performing specific actions.

Vishing attacks rely on voice manipulation and social skills to deceive victims. Attackers might impersonate trusted authorities, tricking individuals into providing financial information, login credentials, or access to secure systems, leading to fraud and unauthorised access.

Tailgating and Impersonation Attacks

Tailgating, also known as piggybacking, involves an attacker physically following an authorised person into a restricted area without proper authentication. Impersonation attacks involve someone posing as a legitimate employee, contractor, or service provider to gain unauthorised access.

Tailgating and impersonation attacks bypass technical security measures by exploiting human trust. Once inside secure areas, attackers can steal sensitive documents, plant physical devices for future cyber-attacks, or engage in sabotage, posing significant risks to physical and digital assets.

Upgrading ITWhat should you be looking out for?

You should always be aware of phishing and social engineering attacks no matter what platform you are on. Some of the 5 most common features of an attack are:

  • Unexpected Requests:

Be cautious if you receive unexpected requests for sensitive information or urgent actions, especially via email, phone calls, or messages.

  • Unusual URLs:

Check website URLs carefully. Avoid clicking on links from unfamiliar or suspicious sources. Look for HTTPS and double-check domain spellings.

  • Generic Greetings:

Beware of generic greetings like “Dear Customer.” Legitimate organisations usually use your name. Be suspicious of unsolicited messages lacking personalisation.

  • High-Pressure Tactics:

Watch out for messages creating a sense of urgency, demanding immediate action. Cybercriminals often use time pressure to manipulate victims.

  • Unexpected Attachments:

Do not open unexpected email attachments or download files from unknown sources. Malware often spreads through seemingly harmless files.

As the attacks get more intelligent, your team must do the same, with cyber awareness training your team can learn how to prevent attacks to themselves and your business.

To learn more about training your team, head to our website and get in touch and check out our Cyber Awareness Training

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