The technique of manipulating people so that they give up sensitive information is called social engineering. The sorts of data that these criminals want may differ. Still, when people are attacked, the criminals typically attempt to cheat you into giving them your passwords and bank details or accessing your PC to install malicious software secretly to Allow them access to your passwords and bank details and provide them with access power over your computer.
Criminals use social engineering techniques because the inherent tendency to trust is inherently easier to manipulate than to find how to hack the apps. It’s way more comfortable, for instance, to trick someone into giving you their password than to attempt to crack their password (unless the password is weak).
Social engineering cyber-attacks happen in one or more steps. An attacker first examines the intended target to obtain the required background information to proceed with the attack, such as possible entry points and inadequate security protocols. The intruder then moves to gain the victim’s trust and rewards subsequent acts that breach security practices, such as disclosing confidential data or granting access to vital resources.
Social engineering is dangerous because it depends on human action or error rather than software and operating systems vulnerabilities. Legitimate users find errors much less predictable, making them more challenging to detect and thwart than a malware-based intrusion.
Techniques of Social Engineering Attacks
Social engineering attacks take several different forms and can be carried out anywhere human activity happens. The following five types of digital social engineering attacks are the most common.
1. Baiting: Social Engineering Attacks
As its name suggests, baiting attacks make a false promise to pick up a target’s greed or interest. They draw users to a pit that robs their personal information or inflicts malware on their systems.
The worst method of baiting is to spread malware using physical media. For instance, attackers leave the bait — normally malware-infected flash drives — in prominent places where possible victims are sure to see them (e.g., bathrooms, elevators, the parking lot of a targeted company). The bait looks genuinely like a label that presents it as the payroll list of the company.
Victims catch the bait out of curiosity and implant it in a work or home machine, ensuring the device automatically installs malware.
In the real world, baiting scams do not have to be carried out. Online baiting forms are ads that lead to malicious sites or allow users to download a malware-infected application.
Scareware includes victims bombarded with fictitious warnings and threats. Users are misled to believe that their devices are compromised with malware. Scareware is also known as a software of disappointment, scanner software, and fraudulent software.
A famous scareware example is the legitimate pop-up banners that appear in your browser when browsing the web, which will show text such as ‘Your computer may be infected with hazardous spyware programs.’ It either offers the tool’s installation (often infected with malware) for you or leads your computers to a malicious website.
Scareware is often spread via spam, which removes false alerts or offers users worthless/harmful services.
An attacker here gets information using a series of cleverly constructed lies. The scam is often started by an attacker who claims to need confidential information from a victim to perform a vital task.
The perpetrator typically begins by building trust with his victim by impersonating employers, the police, banks, tax officers, and those who have the right to know. The pretext raises questions that are essentially necessary to ascertain the victim’s identity, from which sensitive personal details are obtained.
This scam gathers all kinds of relevant information and documents, such as social security numbers, personal addresses, telephone numbers, phone records, staff vacation dates, bank records, and even physical plant safety information.
Phishing scams are among the most common forms of social engineering attacks and text campaigns to build a sense of urgency, interest, or fear in victims. It then provokes them to expose confidential data, click links to malicious sites, or open malware-containing attachments.
An example is an email that alerts users of an online service to a policy breach requiring immediate action, such as a mandatory password change. It provides a path to an unauthorized website that looks almost identical to its legally approved version, forcing the unsuspecting user to enter his current credentials and password. The information is sent to the attacker upon submission of the form.
Given that similar or nearly identical messages are sent in phishing campaigns to all users, it is much simpler for mail servers to identify and block them if they have access to sites for communicating threats.
5. Spear phishing
This is a more focused version of the phishing scam in which an attacker picks individuals or businesses. They then tailor their messages to make their assault less noticeable based on their attributes, positions, and contacts. Spear phishing involves a significant amount of work on behalf of the victim and can take weeks and months to delete. They’re much harder to spot, and if done well, they have higher success rates.
A spear-phishing scenario could involve an intruder who emails one or more employees by personalizing an organization’s IT contractor. It is written and signed just as the consultant usually does so that beneficiaries believe it is an authentic letter. The message asks recipients to change their password and provides them with a path to a malicious page where the attacker now catches them.
Social Engineering Attacks: Essential Things to Remember
Slow down: Spammers want you first to act and consider later. If the message transmits a sense of urgency or uses high-pressure marketing techniques, never let their speed impact your careful inspection.
- Be wary of unwelcome texts.
- If the email appears to be from a business you use, do your analysis.
- Use a search engine to locate their phone number on the actual company’s website or a phone list.
Don’t let a link rule you: Remain in control by using a search engine to locate the website to ensure that you land where you want. When your hangover links in email, the actual URL will be displayed at the bottom, but a decent fake will still lead you wrong.
Hijacking email has become rampant: hackers, spammers, and social engineers have become rampant in taking control of the email accounts of individuals (and other communications accounts). Once they monitor the email address, they take advantage of the trust of the user’s contacts. Even if the sender appears to be someone you know, please check with your friend before opening the connections or downloading an email with a link or attachment.
Beware of any download: If you do not know the sender AND plan to get a file from it, it’s an error to download something.
Foreign bids are false: Whether you get an email from a foreign lottery or sweepstakes, money from an anonymous relative, or offers to pass funds for a share of the money from a foreign country, it’s sure to be a scam.
Social Engineering Attacks: Prevention
Social engineers exploit human emotions, including curiosity or fear, to make plans and to capture victims. Be vigilant when you feel alarmed by a text, appreciated by a bid on a website, or find stray digital media lying around. Alertness will help you defend yourself from most social engineering assaults on the digital world. Also, the following tips will help to boost your attention to social engineering hacks.
Check out: How To Prevent The Common Cyber Attacks In 2021?
Don’t open emails or attachments from suspicious sources: You don’t need to answer emails if you don’t know the sender in question. Even if you know them and doubt their post, verify and validate news from other sources such as telephone or directly from a service provider’s website. Note that email addresses are spoofed all the time; an intruder might even have initiated an email supposedly from a trusted source.
Using multifactor authentication: User credentials are one of the most critical pieces of information attackers are searching for. The use of an authentication multifactor helps ensure your account’s security in the case of a system compromise. Imperva Login Protect is an easy-to-deploy 2FA solution that improves your applications’ account security.
Be aware of enticing offers: Think twice before accepting an offer that sounds too appealing. Googling will help you quickly decide whether you have a genuine offer or a trap.
Keep your antivirus/anti-malware program updated: Make sure you refresh the device automatically or get used to installing the new signatures every day. Regularly verify that the changes have been applied and check for potential infections in your system.