What is Social Engineering?
Social engineering uses human psychology to “engineer” or manipulate people into surrendering confidential information and valuable assets.
Cybercriminals seek passwords, passcodes, consumer data (such as social security numbers), financial data, or business secrets. Alternately, they may try to install software such as ransomware to control and exploit information on your company’s devices.
Dive deeper into the common social engineering tactics.
Measures to Protect Your Operations
Let’s explore some ways to safeguard against social engineering:
1. Identify the Warning Signs
The first step to safeguarding against social engineering attacks is to know the warning signs. Watch out for tactics that include:
- Emotional prompts: Social engineering seeks to elicit extreme emotions to get victims to act without thinking. Beware of communications that prompt fear, greed, curiosity, or urgency. Cybercriminals will try to play on the natural human desire to be helpful. Take a moment to carefully consider a request and conduct investigations before acting on it.
- Suspicious sender’s address or information: Hackers will create emails and use phone numbers that closely approximate the legitimate institution’s contact details. Always check the sender’s information. They assume that if you are likely to miss these inaccuracies, you may be more susceptible to their manipulation tactics.
- Spoofed hyperlinks and websites: In some applications, hovering your mouse over a link can reveal a preview image. If the preview doesn’t match the info in the link, that’s a red flag.
- Grammatical errors: While we're not all English teachers, obvious misspellings and inconsistent formatting are warning signs. Reputable organizations have stringent editing processes to produce stellar communication documents.
- Suspicious attachments: Hackers often send unsolicited emails with instructions to download malware-infected attachments. Turn on your Safe Attachment protections to remain vigilant.
2. Invest in Security Awareness Training
Security Awareness Training is essential for all members of your organization. It's typically a compliance requirement for many sectors. These sessions should be held frequently and include information on detecting and protecting against the latest cybersecurity threats.
3. Establish an IT Security Risk Awareness Culture
Promote a healthy sense of skepticism among your employees and a commitment to fact-checking all requests. Posters, reminders, and IT security drills can help keep the security risk awareness high and lessen the probability of human errors.
4. Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
MFA adds extra protection over the access points into your company’s network. This mechanism utilizes several factors to verify one’s identity when you are accessing an app, website, or other resource. Multi-Factor Authentication typically requires two or more factors to confirm your log-in credentials.
- Factors You Have: a token, OTP, trusted device, smart card, or badge ID
- You As A Factor: a facial scan, fingerprint, retina scan, or use of other biometric attributes
- Factors You Know: your unique pin, answers to security questions, or your unique password
5. Invest in Robust Data Protection
Protecting user data and proprietary information is essential to safeguard against data leaks and breaches. Some critical IT security measures require that you:
- Implement an IT security policy to guide the collection, storage, access, and use of data
- Establish tiered access to your company’s network and assets according to job roles and privacy clearance levels
- Always use secure websites (ones with the “https” notation in the URL)
- Install anti-malware to protect against viruses, ransomware, and other malware
- Promote email security to safeguard data transmission within and outside of your organization
- Establish data backup and recovery processes
- Shred confidential hard documents
- Remove company data from old devices before disposal
- Regularly apply security patches or updates
6. Curate Social Media Accounts
Where do social engineers get raw material to create false personas and scenarios to trick victims? Often, social media. Make sure you and your staff never announce vacations, vacation details, or even business conference and meeting details on social media in real-time. Cybercriminals use these tidbits of information to create convincing stories as they impersonate top stakeholders. This act helps them trick subordinates into granting access to confidential data and company finances.
Boost Your Cybersecurity With Net Friends
The fallout from social engineering attacks is pervasive, but you can protect your company. Net Friends is a leading managed security service provider (MSSP) with the expertise you need to enhance your company’s IT security.
Contact us to discover how we can help you safeguard your business and promote further growth.
Originally Published: January 20, 2022
Revised & Updated: August 1, 2023