When most people hear the word cybersecurity, they think of how to protect themselves from hackers who exploit technical vulnerabilities in networks. But there is another way to penetrate organizations and networks – through human weaknesses. That’s what social engineering is all about: a way to trick someone into giving up information or giving them access to data networks.
Types of Social Engineering Attacks
Social engineering attacks are different. Therefore, it is important to understand what social engineering is and how it works. By learning to recognize the underlying mechanism of action, you can spot such attacks much more easily. The most common are:
- targeted cyber threats;
- DDoS attacks;
- internal threats.
How to Avoid a Social Engineering Attack
Social engineers are particularly difficult to counter because they use the traits of human nature – curiosity, respect for authority, a desire to help a friend. However, there are a number of tips on how to spot their attacks.
Check the Source
Think for a moment where the news is coming from – don’t trust it blindly. On your desk nobody knows where the flash drive came from? Did you suddenly get a call saying you inherited $5 million? Does your manager ask you to send him a lot of data about individual employees in a letter? All of this looks very suspicious, so proceed with caution.
It’s easy to verify the source. If in doubt, go to the official website, contact a representative and ask them to confirm or deny the message.
What Do You Know?
Does the person calling you or texting you know all the relevant information, e.g. B. Your full name? The bank clerk should definitely have all your details in front of them and will definitely ask you for a confirmation word before allowing you to make any changes to your account. If this does not happen, there is a high probability that the letter, message or call is a forgery. Be careful!
Stop and Think
Social engineers often use the illusion of urgency in hopes that the victim won’t think much about what’s happening. Just a minute of thought can help you identify and prevent an attack.
Do not rush to provide data by phone or follow the link. Better call the official number or visit the official website. Use a different contact method to verify the credibility of the source. For example, if a friend emails you asking for money, write or call them to make sure it’s really them.
Need Proof of Identity
The easiest way for a social engineer to break into a secure building is to carry a box or stack of folders. Someone will definitely hold the door open for him. Don’t fall for this trap: always ask for ID.
The same rule applies in other situations. If you are asked for information, provide the name and number of the caller or their immediate manager. Then simply check this information on the Internet or in a directory before you provide any personal information. If you don’t know the person requesting information and you still have doubts, ask someone to verify and then call back.
Use a Strong Spam Filter
If your email client doesn’t filter spam thoroughly enough or doesn’t flag emails as suspicious, try changing the settings. Good spam filters use a variety of information to identify spam. You can identify suspicious files or links, blacklist untrustworthy IP addresses or questionable senders, and analyze email content to detect fakes.
How Plausible isThat?
Some social engineers rely on you not to think about it. Try to assess how realistic the situation is so you can avoid an attack.
Do Not Hurry
Be especially cautious if you are told the situation is urgent. This is a standard way for attackers to keep you from thinking. If you feel pressured, slow down. Suppose you need time to get the information, you need to ask your boss, you don’t have the right data at the moment, anything to give yourself time to think.
In most cases, the scammer takes no chances and realizes that the element of surprise is gone.
Protect Your Devices
It is important to protect the devices so that even if the attack is successful, the social engineer cannot get too much information. Whether smartphone, home network or large company system, the principle is the same.
Keep Your Virus and Malware Protection Up to Date
Update your software and firmware regularly, paying special attention to security fixes.
Do not run the smartphone with root privileges and the network or computer in administrator mode. Even if the social engineer gets the password to your user account, they cannot change the system configuration or install anything on it.
Don’t use the same password for different accounts. You don’t want an attacker to be able to log into all of your accounts with one password.
Use two-factor authentication for your most important accounts so they can’t be hacked with just a password. You can use voice recognition, optional security device, fingerprint or SMS confirmation.
If you just provided your account password and suspect you have been scammed, change your password immediately. Stay up to date on new cybersecurity threats
Think About Your Digital Footprint
Think about your online presence. By posting a lot of personal information on the Internet (e.g. on social networks), you help attackers. We advise you to speak more cautiously about yourself and only make your publications available to friends. No need to be paranoid, just be careful.
Consider what other aspects of your life you share online. For example, if you published your CV on the Internet, you should remove your address, phone number and date of birth from there – all useful information that a criminal can use. Some social engineers prepare for an attack very carefully, gathering all sorts of data about the victim to hook them up. Don’t give them that opportunity.
Social engineering attacks are extremely dangerous because they occur in normal situations. However, if you fully understand their mechanism and take basic precautions, you are much less likely to fall victim to them.