Social Engineering Explained
What is Social Engineering Attack?
We humans tend to instantly trust a person who proves that they are being helpful. The art of human psychology which is used to manipulate them to disclose sensitive information is defined as Social Engineering. Humans are considered to be the weakest link in the cybersecurity chain, it is well known that humans can be tricked easily into obtaining information, hence social engineering exploits human tendency to trust. 96% of social engineering attacks enter organisations through email inboxes, states 2020 Verizon data breach investigations report.
The person who conducts this social engineering attack is called “Social Engineer” whose traits would appear to be trustworthy, friendliness, great personality, flirtation if needed and conformity to persuade the victim to disclose the sensitive information that is needed. One might wonder, “Why would some disclose sensitive information to someone they barely know?” Now that is not how it works when it comes to social engineering. Social engineers collect bits of small useful information and assemble them together to gain better knowledge of the person or even the business organisation. By having the necessary information of the target, now the social engineer can effectively infiltrate it.
How do one conduct Social Engineering Attacks?
As mentioned earlier, we now know social engineers tend to gain the target’s trust. One of the easiest ways to gather information about the target is through the public information available that can be accessed by anyone. This helps immensely in social engineering penetration tests. Another would be disguising oneself as someone related to the target, for example A social engineer disguises as one of the employees of the targeted organisation whose details are already publicly available on the internet to get access into the organisation. However, the most frequently used social engineering technique is Phishing.
Phishing is an attacking technique where the attacker impersonates a legitimate user, who tricks the victim to click malicious links or to obtain sensitive information like credit card details, login credentials or even to install or open a malicious program file like ransomware. Ransomware Phishing attacks mostly use people’s emotions like curiosity or even sometimes fear. Another attacking mechanism is Pretexting, which is similar to phishing except where the attacker first builds trust with the chosen victim and then uses their persuasive skills to get valuable information from them.
What is the impact of Social Engineering Attack?
One needs to understand that, a victim of social engineering is not only a personal threat, but it is also a corporate one. Main targets of social engineering attacks are mostly businesses varying from small scale to large scale enterprises. Below mentioned are main consequences, if your organisation has been preyed on social engineering.
Disruptions in Operations
Loss of Productivity
How to protect your business from social engineering attacks?
The best solution to protect your business from social engineering attacks is to train, test your employees and maintain basic cyber hygiene which can be achieved by implementing the five main key controls of Cyber Essentials.
Use a firewall to secure your internet connection
Use secure settings for your device and software
Control who has access to your data and services
Protect yourself from virus and other malware
Keep your devices and software up to date
Not sure where to begin or concerned on how to protect your business organisation and spread awareness to your employees?, this is something Meta Defence Labs can help you with, you can book a time for a complementary cybersecurity maturity assessment which helps you to understand where you need to begin in terms of data security or reach us on LinkedIn.