Social Engineering Attacks, Techniques and Prevention

Social engineering is a deception that relies on influence, social skills, and human interaction to obtain information about an organization or computer system. Logical network defenses, security appliances, and antimalware protection get stronger every day, over time industry have strengthened our defenses and as a result, hackers look to penetrate a softer target, the people in the organization, including employees, contractors, and customers by using a social engineering attack.

Techniques and Prevention

Social Engineering Attack Techniques

Scam artists work on our emotions and many times launch an attack that might promise gifts and prizes, important information or threaten to take action if you do not reply. Cybercriminals achieve social engineering in many ways that include phone, online, phishing, farming, pop-ups, fake websites, and simple persuasion.

Phishing sends out massive emails. Phishing emails bait victims to click to claim a prize, sign up for a special program, or sign in to check account information.

The message appears urgent and requires a quick response. One in 10 individuals will respond. Phishing is very dangerous as over 90% of ransomware attacks start out with a phishing email. A spear-phishing attack is more specific to an organization, unlike just throwing out a bunch of emails and hoping we’re going to get a response spear phishing is a more targeted approach. In that case, in order for a spear-phishing attack to be successful, a hacker uses a legitimate email address list, the hacker will need to harvest or generate the directed list prior to the attack.

There are many working parts to a social engineering attack but the heart of this is the victim. Other components include motive and that’s why cybercriminals use social engineering. Reasons include obtaining money, gaining access to a system, or causing damage to a system, the method is how cybercriminals achieve social engineering using human intervention or technology or sometimes a combination of both.

The hacker themselves must be able to pull off a believable hoax, and the tools used may include email, social media, web pages, phishing or farming, and stimulus, what’s the best way to inspire someone to give up their information? Using fear, need for compliance, or appeal to his or her need for friendship, acceptance, or social validation. Social engineering is one of the hardest threats to defend against, a skilled hacker will most likely try to use social engineering before spending any time on more difficult methods to obtain a password, such as a password cracking to obtain access to a system.

Prevent Social Engineering Attacks

Organizations can thwart social engineering attacks by employing user education and strong spa filters to prevent deceiving emails from getting through to the employees.

Many vendors offer tools to test employees, but you can test yourself, go to this website on SonicWall, and here you see a SonicWall phishing IQ test. This is a good test, ’cause as I said, a large percentage of ransomware attacks begin with a phishing email.

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