What is Social Engineering?
The art of influencing users of a computing system into having to reveal that can be used to obtain illegal access to a computer system is known as social engineering. Exploiting human kindness, greed, and curiosity to obtain entry to restricted access buildings or convincing users to install backdoor software are examples of acts covered by the term.
Knowing how hackers manipulate users into releasing important login information, among other things, is critical to protecting computer systems.
In this tutorial, we will introduce you to the common social engineering techniques and how you can come up with security measures to counter them.
Social engineering attack techniques
Social engineering attacks come in a number of different forms, and they can be carried out anyplace there is human interaction. The five most popular types of digital social engineering attacks are listed below.
Baiting attacks, as the name implies, use a false promise to encourage a victim’s desire or curiosity. They trick consumers into falling into a trap in which their personal information is stolen or their computers are infected with malware.
Physical media is used to spread malware in the most despised form of baiting. For example, attackers may place the bait—usually malware-infected flash drives—in settings where potential victims are likely to encounter it (e.g., bathrooms, elevators, the parking lot of a targeted company). The bait has a real appearance, with a label identifying it as the company’s payroll list.
Victims pick up the bait out of curiosity and place it in a work or home computer, causing malware to be installed automatically.
Baiting scams don’t always have to take place in the actual world. Baiting occurs online in the form of attractive advertising that direct viewers to malicious websites or encourage them to download a malware-infected application.
The victims of scareware are assaulted with false alerts and fictitious threats. Users are fooled into thinking their system is infected with malware, prompting them to install software that has no purpose (other than to benefit the attacker) or is malware. Deception software, rogue scanning software, and fraudware are all terms used to describe scareware.
The legitimate-looking popup banners that appear in your browser while you’re browsing the web, displaying text like “Your computer may be infected with nasty spyware applications,” are a popular scareware example. It either offers to install the utility for you (which is frequently malware-infested) or directs you to a malicious website where your PC is infected.
Scareware is also spread through spam email, which sends out false warnings or encourages people to acquire useless/harmful services.
An attacker collects data by telling a series of structured lies. A scammer may begin the scam by claiming that he or she requires sensitive information from a victim in order to fulfill a critical task.
To establish trust from their victim, the attacker frequently starts by impersonating coworkers, police, bank and tax officials, or other persons with right-to-know authority. The pretexter asks questions that appear to be used to verify the victim’s identity, but are actually designed to gather sensitive personal information.
Social security numbers, personal addresses and phone numbers, phone records, employee vacation dates, bank records, and even security details about a physical plant are all collected as part of this fraud.
Phishing scams, which are email and text message campaigns aimed at creating a sense of urgency, curiosity, or fear in victims, are one of the most common social engineering attack types. It then pressures people into disclosing personal information, visiting malicious websites, or opening malware-infected attachments.
An email sent to subscribers of an online service informing them of a policy violation that requires immediate action on their part, such as a necessary password change, is an example. It contains a link to an illicit website that looks almost identical to the official version and prompts the unknowing user to enter their current credentials and a new password. The information is delivered to the attacker when the form is submitted.
Because phishing attempts send similar or nearly identical messages to all users, mail servers with access to threat sharing platforms have an easier time detecting and stopping them.
This is a more focused variation of the phishing scam, in which the attacker targets specific people or businesses. They then personalize their messages based on the features, work titles, and contacts of their victims in order to make their attack less obvious. Spear phishing necessitates a significant amount of work on the part of the attacker and might take weeks or months to complete. They’re significantly more difficult to detect, and if done correctly, they have a higher success rate.
In a spear phishing scenario, an attacker sends an email to one or more employees while impersonating an organization’s IT consultant. It’s worded and signed exactly like the consultant’s emails, leading recipients to believe it’s a genuine letter. The letter advises recipients to reset their passwords and includes a link that takes them to a fraudulent page where the attacker obtains their information.
Social engineering prevention
To carry out schemes and attract victims into their traps, social engineers use human emotions such as curiosity and fear. As a result, be careful if you receive an alarming email, are tempted by a website’s offer, or come across stray digital media laying around. Being alert can help you avoid the majority of social engineering assaults that take place online.
Moreover, the following tips can help improve your vigilance in relation to social engineering hacks.
- Don’t open emails and attachments from suspicious sources – You don’t have to respond to an email if you don’t recognize the sender. Even if you know them and are wary of their message, double-check and confirm the information from other sources, such as the phone or a service provider’s website. Remember that email addresses are frequently fake; even an email purporting to come from a reputable source could have been sent by an attacker.
- Use multifactor authentication – User credentials are one of the most useful pieces of information for attackers. Multifactor authentication helps protect your account in the event that the system is hacked. Imperva Login Protect is a simple-to-use two-factor authentication solution that can help your applications’ account security.
- Be wary of tempting offers – If an offer sounds too good to be true, think twice before accepting it. You can rapidly assess whether you’re dealing with a legitimate offer or a trap by Googling the topic.
- Keep your antivirus/antimalware software updated – Make sure automatic updates are turned on, or download the most recent signatures first thing every day. Check for updates on a regular basis, and scan your system for possible infections.
- Delete any request for financial information or passwords. If you get asked to reply to a message with personal information, it’s a scam.
- Reject requests for help or offers of help. Legitimate businesses and organizations will not call you to give help. Consider any promise to ‘help’ restore credit scores, refinance a home, answer your inquiry, etc., a scam if you did not specifically request assistance from the sender. Likewise, if you get a request for assistance from a charity or group with which you have no affiliation, delete it. To prevent falling victim to a scam, look for reliable charitable organizations on your own.
- Set your spam filters to high. Spam filters are included into every email program. To identify yours, search through your settings options and set them to high–just make sure to check your spam folder on a regular basis to see if any legitimate email has gotten stuck there. You can also look for a step-by-step guide to setting up your spam filters by searching for your email provider’s name followed by the phrase’spam filters.’
- Secure your computing devices. Antivirus software, firewalls, and email filters should all be installed and updated on a regular basis. Set your operating system to update automatically, and if your smartphone doesn’t, update it manually whenever you receive a notification. Use an anti-phishing feature provided by your web browser or a third party to defend yourself from phishing attacks.
- The art of using human aspects to get access to un-authorized resources is known as social engineering.
- Social engineers use a number of techniques to fool the users into revealing sensitive information.
- Organizations must have security policies that have social engineering countermeasures.
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