What is a Social Engineering Attack
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Social Engineering Attack
A Social Engineering Attack is an entire process carried out by a cybercriminal to obtain something from their victims in return; for example, access to a personal, bank, or corporate accounts, personal or confidential information, or the download of any malicious software to do internal network damage.
The first step in a social engineering attack is the scammer’s preliminary investigation of their targets. If the victim is a company, the hacker makes a deep survey of the entire organizational structure, internal operations, and the form of communication.
A cybercriminal pays close attention to the behaviour and patterns of the employees that said the company has: from the first level to the managers. They can obtain information from social networks and online and offline analyses of users. When the attacker gets all the necessary information, he structures his plan and puts it into action to gain access to personal information or cause some damage to the company’s internal network.
How to Prevent a Social Engineering Attack
1. Use multi-Factor Authentication
Online accounts need to be protected by more than just a password. Multi-factor Authentication adds more layers of security to verify identity when accessing an account. These factors can be fingerprints, facial recognition, or temporary codes sent to the remote mobile device. In this way, any cybercriminals who try to access this account will not be able to do so, at least not so easily.
2. Set High Spam Filters
Although all email messaging services have the spam box activated, it is best to check that the level is increased to prevent malicious messages from flooding the primary inbox. Remember to constantly check that some natural or important note hasn’t landed there by mistake.
3. Use VPN
A virtual private network (VPN) can prevent anyone who wants to access someone else’s leading network from getting it. These services provide a secret, encrypted tunnel over any internet connection used. Thus, the link is protected, and the data and personal information become anonymous and untraceable. This is functional even for navigations where third-party cookies are used.
4. Keep Software up to date
When Software is kept up to date when a new version is available, it stays protected and ensures essential security fixes to safeguard your information. When updates delay or skipped, it leaves a security hole that cybercriminals can exploit to attack and exploit this vulnerability.
5. Constantly Monitor Systems and Networks
The plans must have 24-hour monitoring, especially those that contain confidential information. For that, both external and internal scans are necessary to find vulnerabilities in the network. This process can also identify fake domains and remove them instantly to prevent a data breach.
6. Use cloud-based WAF
A cloud-based Web Application Firewall (WAF) offers more protection than a conventional firewall, as it designed to ensure maximum protection against social engineering attacks. These can constantly monitor apps or websites for anomalies or misbehaviour. In case of detecting something negative, it blocks attacks instantly and issues an alert about any attempt to install malware.
Never take for granted that you will never suffer a social engineering attack, as many variants focus on different objectives. One of them can be an employee, a user of social networks, or even the director of a prestigious company. It is best to stay alert and think before clicking or sharing confidential information with anyone, whatever the medium.
Three Examples of Social Engineering
1. Phishing Email
This social engineering is one of the most common and mainly aim at average users. This example shows an email message inviting the user to settle an alleged debt with a department store. However, the attackers want the person to dial the number provided to provide personal information.
Phishing emails often have factors in common: they use harsh language, often have cacographic or errors in their design, the logos of the companies they impersonate of poor quality or old methods no longer used by the company. In addition, the email account does not come from any official institution.
2. Honey Cheat on Dating App
If you have seen the recent Netflix documentary “The Tinder Scammer”, you will know exactly where we going with this example of social engineering. This production follows the case of 3 women who came by a man they met on the dating app Tinder.
Although we would like to provide more details about this documentary, we do not want to fall into a spoiler. With very similar stories, this criminal pretends to be the son of a millionaire. After a certain amount of conquest and persuasion, he convinces his victims to give him large sums of money. However, these attacks are also common, and in 2021 alone, these types of scammers have raised around USD 600,000.
3. WhatsApp Extortion
The specialized portal WABetainfo warned in 2021 about a new form of smishing-type Extortion through the WhatsApp messaging platform. This consists of the scammer sending the following message: “Sorry, who are you? I found you in my contact list”, and if the person decides to answer, they try to continue the conversation to gain their trust and obtain personal data.
The questions are widespread and can take as any other conversation where you get to know someone, for example, name, age, and occupation, all accompanied by a kind and innocent tone. This type of social engineering aims to get the victim to share their social network accounts and obtain more information and photographs.