What Is Social Engineering And Why It’s A Deceptive Threat to Your Business
Have you ever encountered a skilled con artist who could charm their way into your trust, spinning tales that seemed too good to be true? From harmless exaggerations to elaborate Ponzi schemes, the world of deception has always been able to capture our attention.
At the core of this craft lies the art of Social Engineering, a psychological manipulation technique used by cybercriminals and con artists alike.
In the realm of cyber security, threats come in various forms and one of the most deceptive and manipulative is social engineering. As technology advances, cybercriminals have become adept at exploiting human psychology to gain unauthorised access to sensitive information.
At 9spheres Technologies, we understand the gravity of social engineering attacks and are committed to equipping businesses with the knowledge and tools to defend against them. In this article we’ll delve into the world of social engineering, explore its techniques, learn prevention strategies, and understand how we can fortify your business against these insidious attacks.
Where Social Engineering And Cyber Attacks Meet
Social engineering is a form of cyber-attack that targets human vulnerabilities rather than technical weaknesses. It involves psychological manipulation and deception to trick individuals into divulging confidential information or performing actions that compromise security. By exploiting trust, fear, or curiosity, cybercriminals gain unauthorised access to systems, networks, or sensitive data.
Cybercriminals employ various techniques to carry out social engineering attacks. These may include phishing emails, pretexting (creating false scenarios), baiting (using enticing baits), tailgating (gaining physical access), or even posing as a trusted individual over the phone (vishing).
Examples include receiving an email that mimics a trusted organisation or being put under time pressure to urgently reveal information to someone impersonating a colleague. A real-world example of this is the 2022 tax lodgement email scam pretending to be from the ATO.
It’s important that you’re able to recognize these techniques and prevent social engineering attacks.
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Social Engineering Prevention
Preventing social engineering attacks requires a combination of awareness, education, and proactive measures. Implementing robust security policies, conducting regular employee training, and fostering a culture of scepticism and vigilance are useful strategies.
9 Ways To Combat A Social Engineering Attack
1. Raise Awareness
Educate yourself and your employees about social engineering techniques, such as phishing emails, pretexting, and impersonation scams. Regularly conduct training sessions to keep everyone informed and vigilant.
2. Verify Requests
Never provide sensitive information or perform actions based solely on a request received via email, phone call, or message. Always verify the authenticity of the request through an alternate and trusted communication channel.
3. Strengthen Passwords
Create strong, unique passwords for all accounts and enable multi-factor authentication whenever possible. Avoid using easily guessable information, such as birthdays or pet names, and regularly update passwords.
4. Be Cautious of Suspicious Emails
Exercise caution when opening emails from unknown senders or those containing suspicious links or attachments. Verify the legitimacy of the email and its sender before taking any action. If something doesn’t seem right about the email, check for tell-tale signs, such as spelling errors, poor quality logo images or a sender’s address that is slightly different to the authentic one.
5. Think Before Clicking
Avoid clicking on unfamiliar links or downloading files from untrusted sources. Hover over links to check their actual destinations and use reputable antivirus software to scan any downloaded files.
6. Avoid Being Pressured
One popular strategy used in a social engineering attack is applying a sense of urgency to the request. The attacker will attempt to get you to take an action immediately such as provide your personal information while they have you on the phone. They normally also attach a threat to this request to force you to comply then and there, in the moment. If you feel uneasy, take your time and tell them you’ll get back to them while you verify their request.
7. Implement IT Security Policies
Establish and enforce comprehensive IT security policies within your organisation. Define guidelines for handling sensitive information, accessing company systems, and reporting suspicious activities.
8. Conduct Security Audits
Regularly assess your systems, networks, and security protocols to identify and address any vulnerability or potential entry points for social engineering attacks.
9. Maintain A Culture Of Security
Foster a culture of security within your organisation by encouraging open communication about potential threats, rewarding proactive security practices, and emphasising the importance of staying vigilant against attacks using social engineering.
What Do I Do If I Fall Victim To Social Engineering?
In the unfortunate event of a social engineering attack where prevention techniques may have been lacking, swift action is crucial. You should isolate the affected systems, change your passwords, and notify relevant authorities immediately.
Conduct a thorough investigation to identify the extent of the breach and implement remedial measures. Working closely with experienced cyber security professionals can help minimise the damage and prevent future social engineering attacks.
Social engineering attacks pose a significant risk to businesses. At 9spheres Technologies, we can help you implement a robust cyber security strategy and train you and your staff on best practices. Book a free consultation with us today to discuss how we can help you.
What Is The Most Common Method Of Social Engineering?
The most common method is phishing, where attackers send deceptive emails or messages to trick individuals into revealing sensitive information or clicking on malicious links.
How Do People Carry Out Social Engineering Attacks?
Attacks using social engineering can be conducted through various means, including email, phone calls, in-person interactions, or even online impersonation. Attackers exploit psychological vulnerabilities to manipulate individuals into divulging confidential information or performing actions that compromise security.
Will My Antivirus Software Protect Me From A Social Engineering Attack?
While antivirus software is an essential component of your overall cyber security defence, it is important to note that it primarily focuses on detecting and preventing malware and other malicious software. While some antivirus programs may include features to identify phishing attempts or malicious links, they may not be foolproof in detecting social engineering attacks.
Social engineering often relies on psychological manipulation and deception rather than direct malware infiltration. These attacks can involve tactics like impersonation, pretexting, or tricking individuals into divulging sensitive information voluntarily. Antivirus software may not specifically protect against these techniques.