Social Engineering Attacks You Need to Know About

Social Engineering Attacks You Need to Know About

When you work at an office or remotely, it’s imperative to know about social engineering attacks on the Internet. These attacks are becoming more prevalent and involve people giving their confidential information to cybercriminals. The attacks go way behind software and IT vulnerabilities. Social engineering is effective because it relies on human error to gain information. 

We’ve put together a list of the most common social engineering attacks that include information about the attacks and how they work. Read on to learn more about these common attacks and how you can prevent them! But we’ll first start out by learning what social engineering attacks are. 

What are Social Engineering Attacks? 

Social engineering attack is the term used to describe a wide range of malicious activities that depend on human interactions and human error. Hackers use these attacks to manipulate or trick users into making security mistakes or providing sensitive information. 

Social engineering attacks usually involve several steps, over which the attacker asks their victim several questions after making them feel the attacker is someone they can trust. As the victim’s trust grows, the attacker then provides a specific stimulus to gain access to data and networks. 

It’s a very insidious type of cyberattack. And it’s easy for a user to get caught unless they know how to avoid social engineering attacks. 

  1. Whaling

Whaling is another version of phishing that targets top executives and government officials. It makes sense when you figure these individuals have access to highly sensitive data that a hacker could use or sell. 

The attackers spoof an email address from another high-ranking person in the same company or agency. They send emails about urgent matters or about a fake emergency. 

The attack is an easy way to gain access to confidential data and sensitive information only accessible to high-level executives and government officials. 

  1. Baiting

Baiting is another common social engineering method that’s popular with hackers. Baiting involves tricking a victim into providing confidential information or credentials after being promised something of value. 

For instance, the victim may receive a message that promises a free gift card. The email requires them to click on the included link to take a survey. The link may then lead them to a fake Microsoft 365 page that is used to capture their email address and password, sending the information to the hacker. 

  1. Piggybacking

Piggybacking is another ruthless social engineering tactic. It’s also sometimes referred to as “tailgating.” This attack requires an unauthorised person to physically follow an authorised person into a restricted corporate area or system. 

One example of this type of attack is a hacker that gains access to a building by convincing an employee to hold open a door for them because the hacker has forgotten their ID card. Another example involves a hacker asking an employee to borrow their laptop or another device for a few minutes. While the hacker uses the device, they may install malicious software without their victim’s knowledge or consent. 

  1. Quid Pro Quo

The quid pro quo attack is similar to bating; however, this attack usually promises a benefit in exchange for confidential information. Here, the benefit usually takes the form of a service rather than a good, like in the baiting attack. 

  1. Scareware

Scareware is another type of social engineering attack where the hacker inserts malicious code into a webpage that causes pop-up windows with flashing colours and horrible sounds. The message in the pop-up window may alert the user that a virus is being installed on their device. 

In addition, scareware may also tell the person it’s necessary to buy or download security software, and if the user falls for this, the hacker can easily gain access to their credit card information or install a virus. 

  1. Pretexting

Pretexting is another form of social engineering attack. In this attack, the hacker wants to obtain sensitive information through carefully created lies. The scam may be initiated by a hacker who pretends to need sensitive information from a victim to perform a critical task. 

The attacker starts to establish trust with the victim by impersonating coworkers, police, bank & tax officials. They will impersonate anyone who has the authorisation to gain access to sensitive data. The criminal asks questions that are intended to confirm the victim’s identity. This is how they gather the personal data they need to access a system or network. 

How to Avoid & Prevent Social Engineering Attacks

Social engineering attacks are made to appeal to a person’s feelings and motivations. These may include fear, curiosity, and more. The attack is made to draw victims into a hacker’s trap. So, it’s essential to know about these attacks and how to avoid them. Being alert is one way to deter a hacker from this type of attack. 

However, there are additional ways to prevent social engineering attacks. 

Don’t open suspicious emails: if you know the sender but you know they did not send the message, don’t open it or respond to the email. Instead, call them or contact them via chat to see if they sent the message. It’s very easy for hackers to steal email addresses and impersonate people. 

Use multifactor authentication: many hackers are after user credentials; however, you can thwart their access by using multifactor authentication to protect online accounts and keep a hacker from accessing your accounts. For businesses, it’s best to set this up as a rule for all employees. It’s one of the most effective ways to hack the company network. 

Be suspicious of tempting offers: if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is! So, don’t accept the offer as fact. You may find it helpful to Google the topic and find information that can ensure this is a legitimate offer or whether this is a social engineering attack others have fallen for. 

Keep antivirus & antimalware software update: another way to thwart hackers is by keeping your antivirus and antimalware software updated on a regular basis. Automatic updates are best and can be configured directly on your device or by your company’s IT department. Updates ensure your device is not vulnerable to certain kinds of attacks that hackers use. It’s always a  good idea to check and ensure your device(s) have all the most recent updates installed to keep your system safe. 

Summing it Up

So, there you have it! These are some of the most effective and common social engineering attacks hackers are currently using. 

With education and knowledge, you and your employees will be able to keep hackers off devices and your company’s network. All data will stay secure when you know what to look for in a social engineering attack.