What is social engineering?

Social Engineering is the art of manipulating, influencing, or deceiving you in order to gain control over your computer system.

The malicious actor, often referred to as a hacker, might use various methods to gain illegal access. Phishing, spear-phishing and CEO Fraud are all examples.

Who are these Social Engineers?

It could be a hacker in any country who is out to do damage or disrupt. It could be a member of an Eastern Europe cybercrime mafia that is trying to penetrate your network and steal cash from your online bank account. Or, it could be a Chinese hacker that is trying to get in your organisation’s network for corporate espionage. 

It could even be a 15 year old kid sat in their bedroom trying to penetrate your defences just for the fun of it!

How dangerous is it? 

…Many of the most damaging security penetrations are, and will continue to be, due to Social Engineering, not electronic hacking or cracking… Social Engineering is the single greatest security risk in the decade ahead

Gartner Research

Continually evolving.

As threats continually evolve in sophistication and volume, one thing remains constant – the human factor. It is now more important than ever to train your staff on the risks of phishing attacks.

Organisations need to educate their staff to be alert, vigilant and secure. One click from an unsuspecting or curious user could infect your whole organisation and severely damage your reputation.

 

Top 10 Techniques used by Social Engineers​

Understanding the different attack vectors for this type of crime is key when it comes to prevention. This is how the bad guys do it:

Phishing

The process of attempting to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details by masquerading as a trustworthy entity using email which tries to evade spam filters. Emails claiming to be from popular social web sites, banks, auction sites, or IT administrators are commonly used to lure the unsuspecting victim.

Pretexting

An invented scenario is used to engage a potential victim to try and increase the chance that the victim will bite. It's a false motive usually involving some real knowledge of the victim (e.g. date of birth, Social Security number, etc.) in an attempt to get even more information.

Water-Holing

This technique takes advantage of websites people regularly visit and trust. The attacker will gather information about a targeted group of individuals to find out what those websites are, then test those websites for vulnerabilities. Over time, one or more members of the targeted group will get infected and the attacker can gain access to the secure system.

Tailgating

A method used by social engineers to gain access to a building or other protected area. A tailgater waits for an authorized user to open and pass through a secure entry and then follows right behind.

Quid Pro Quo

Latin for 'something for something', in this case it's a benefit to the victim in exchange for information. A good example is hackers pretending to be IT support. They will call everyone they can find at a company to say they have a quick fix and "you just need to disable your AV". Anyone that falls for it gets malware like ransomware installed on their machine.

Spear Phishing

A small, focused, targeted attack via email on a particular person or organization with the goal to penetrate their defenses. The spear phishing attack is done after research on the target and has a specific personalized component designed to make the target do something against their own interest.

Diversion Theft

A 'con' exercised by professional thieves, usually targeted at a transport or courier company. The objective is to trick the company into making the delivery somewhere other than the intended location.

Baiting

Baiting means dangling something in front of a victim so that they take action. It can be through a peer-to-peer or social networking site in the form of a (porn) movie download or it can be a USB drive labeled “Q1 Layoff Plan” left out in a public place for the victim to find. Once the device is used or malicious file is downloaded, the victim’s computer is infected allowing the criminal to take over the network.

Honeytrap

A trick that makes men interact with a fictitious attractive female online. From old spy tactics where a real female was used.

Rogue

Also Rogue Scanner, rogue anti-spyware, rogue anti-malware or scareware, rogue security software is a form of computer malware that deceives or misleads users into paying for the fake or simulated removal of malware. Rogue security software, in recent years, has become a growing and serious security threat in desktop computing. It is a very popular and there are literally dozens of these programs.

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