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Social Engineering attacks have become more prevalent in enterprises and SMBs. As a result, companies must take precautions to avoid cyber crimes and use due diligence to protect their business information to prevent hackers' theft of personal information. Social- engineering attacks usually involve psychological manipulation and manipulation of otherwise uninformed users and staff.
Social engineering attacks are becoming more prevalent in the business world.
Hackers use psychological manipulation to steal personal information from unsuspecting users and staff members. Geolance is a cyber security company that provides social engineering protection for businesses of all sizes, so you can stay safe online without compromising your productivity or efficiency. In addition, we provide 24/7 support with an average response time of under 5 minutes, so you know we're always here when you need us most.
You don't have to worry about hackers stealing your data anymore because Geolance has your back! With our advanced technology and dedicated team, we make sure every aspect of your business is secure while still allowing you to work efficiently and productively on any device at any time. Try us out today!
A social-engineering attack is the psychological manipulation of a user to reveal confidential information or take control of their computers by clicking on compromised links.
Cybercriminals use different techniques to achieve their goals. The following list provides examples of typical attacks:
Phishing emails - In this case, cybercriminals send fraudulent emails from different sources to trick users into disclosing personal data that they can then sell for profit.
Typically, these emails have poor spelling and grammar because criminals do not want their messages to stand out within the sea of spam. Unfortunately, most people do not pay attention when they read phishing emails and click on malicious links without even noticing that the content has poor writing quality.
Spear phishing emails - In this type of social engineering attack, cybercriminals spy on a person or company to find out as much as possible about them. They then use the information they collect to create more credible messages because they appear to come from someone users know and trust.
Whaling emails - This method involves using one-on-one communication between an attacker and a team member to compromise organizational data. A whaling attack typically targets C-level executives (CEOs, chief financial officers, or chief technology officers), board members, or other high-value information security threats within the organization. These attackers use email messages with links whose destination is often legitimate but leads to malicious content.
The reason these attacks are so successful
Most users will click on anything. Unfortunately, we all know this about our fellow employees, and we need to protect them by providing awareness training.
Education is the key to avoiding these types of attacks:
Train your employees regularly in security awareness - Make sure that they understand how important it is not to open emails from people you do not know and verify whether a message from an email address known to belong to the company has been sent. Employees should also be trained on what to look for when reading messages or opening attachments, such as spelling mistakes, poor formatting, etc. In general, if something looks strange, it probably is! Strongly advise users against opening suspicious emails even if they appear to come from a colleague.
Employees must also be aware of phishing emails and should not provide any personal or financial information in reply to such messages.
Examples & Prevention Tips
Attackers may try to include typos in phishing emails to increase users' chances to read them. They might claim that a colleague has sent them an email with important information, such as providing requests disguised as legitimate ones. Because this type of attack is often used against high-level executives who have considerable power in companies, let's look at an excerpt from a sample email:
"I was trying to reach you earlier today about the security issue that I mentioned last week. One of our vendors accidentally sent us all your credit card numbers when sending their monthly bills. It looks like it happened because one of their systems was infected with credit card stealing malware."
The above message includes no visible signs of a problem. However, the email address of the sender and the text itself contain some anomalies: there is an extra space character on both sides of the comma between "bill" and "it," and the phrase "one of their systems was infected with credit card stealing malware" contains an incorrect verb form (the past participle instead of past tense).
Attackers may also use whaling emails to attack high-level executives with considerable power in companies. For example, if someone thinks that they are dealing with a CEO or CFO, they might try to send one such message:
"As we discussed last week about your new role as our company's Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President, I wanted to inform you immediately so we can start to proceed with the necessary steps and requirements."
Note that some typos and poor grammar have been used in the above message, but they only appear at first glance and will not be immediately apparent to users who do not know how to spot such mistakes. Users should also take note of the sender's email address: [email protected] - This is an unverified address that might contain a typo (e.g., there is no space between "of" and "company").
Ensure confidentiality of your company data by securing them within individual mailboxes or folders on shared drives. Ensure that these folders can be accessed only by employees who need them for their work purposes, and do not share this information with anyone outside the organization.
Don't become a victim of social engineering. Instead, train your employees to avoid these types of attacks.
Additionally, a company's Internet service provider may provide assistance on this matter and malware protection and security patches for team member use.
Avoiding social engineering attacks
Train your employees in identifying social engineering attempts by providing examples of scams used against other organizations, especially well-known ones.
Social Engineering Attacks - Example 1
A team member receives an email that appears to be from her bank informing her that there is a suspicious login attempt regarding her account. The message states that the company needs to ask for additional information before proceeding with any actions.
However, if the user clicks on the link included in the email, she might be redirected to a fake banking website to provide sensitive data (i.e., login credentials). If she enters these details in this fake page, attackers can use them to gain access and control funds illegally.
Social Engineering Attacks - Example 2
A Facebook post claims that the user has won an iPad but must share the post to unlock access to this prize. However, if users are tricked into sharing this post with their network of friends, attackers can use it to spread malware or gather personal data about these individuals.
Social Engineering Attacks - Example 3
An individual receives an email from a well-known online shopping company stating that they have noticed suspicious activity on their account and need to verify some details to proceed. The message includes a link used to redirect recipients to a fake website where they are asked for sensitive information (e.g., login credentials).
The above message does not look suspicious at first glance. However, several signs are indicating that something might be wrong:
First, the website address contains a typo (e.g., "Secure link").
The message appears to be inconsistent with the tone of the company that sends it ("we noticed suspicious activity" vs. "welcome back")
In addition, because this message is coming from an unverified email account, there might be several typos included in it (e.g., "Secure link").
To avoid becoming victims of social engineering attacks, users should:
Never open attachments until verifying who sent them and why; these emails may contain malware that could immediately infect their devices upon opening or downloading files. Additionally, taking note of any grammar mistakes included in the body of the email can provide clues regarding its authenticity. Finally, employees should never click on any links included in messages they receive until verifying that the sender is who they claim to be. If in doubt, users should directly contact this person using a method that can be independently verified (e.g., phone).
Ensure that your company data are only accessible by employees who need them for their work purposes, and do not share these details with anyone outside the organization. This way, you will keep attackers from obtaining valuable information about your network from individuals from within. In addition, to avoid social engineering attacks, train your employees to identify suspicious messages and exercise caution when sharing personal information over the Internet.
Types of social engineering attacks
Spear phishing: Targets a small number of employees from the same organization with access to sensitive data. For this reason, these types of attacks require an additional level of preparation and reconnaissance regarding who they will be targeting and what information they need. Spear phishers create personalized messages to seem legitimate and convince their targets about the authenticity of their requests (e.g., "your account is currently locked"). Whaling: This type of attack targets specific high profile individuals within an organization such as chief executive officers, senior executives, or board members; whalers usually ask for money transfers or sensitive data such as login credentials. Vishing (voice): The sender asks users to provide them with information over the phone; this method is becoming quite popular because it is difficult for users to determine whether the person they are talking with has authorized access to company data. In these situations, attackers need only a work telephone number and voice imitations skills. Pishing: The term 'pishing' is used to describe spam messages that ask recipients to provide personal information or click on malicious links to receive something (e.g., money). Spear phishing and whaling attacks often use this technique as well. Pretexting: This type of social engineering attack may include several steps; first, attackers research information about their victims through public sources (social media); then, they pretend to be someone else while carrying out their attacks (e.g., bank employees, tax agents, delivery companies).
Social engineering defence techniques
Identifying suspicious emails will play a key role in preventing social engineering attacks. Here are some tips that users can use to reduce the likelihood of becoming victims of these types of threats:
Do not automatically trust any email, especially if it asks for sensitive information or money transfers. Consider contacting the sender directly through official channels before taking any further actions. Train employees to become familiar with common social engineering tactics scams and how to identify them. Password protect all devices, such as computers and smartphones, and do not let unauthorized individuals use them (e.g., your children might be curious about the games on your smartphone but should not have full access to all its features). Emphasize the importance of using different passwords for each website visited, so sensitive data cannot be obtained if one account is compromised. Password protect any home router access to deny attackers unauthorized access to your network (e.g., wireless networks). Ensure that the operating system and all applications used by employees are kept up to date. Use strong passwords that are difficult to guess or crack (e.g., include upper-case/lower-case letters, numbers, symbols). Set up a Google alert for your name and company name; you can use these search results to find whether false information about yourself has been posted online.
Protecting you, your family & more Social engineering defence techniques
Be aware of any malicious calls, emails, or messages received from someone claiming to be a representative of your bank, credit card company, local government, or another trusted institution. They might be using fear or urgency to pressure you into performing actions that could compromise the security of your accounts. If you receive an email that asks for personal information (e.g., login credentials) within an official message coming from your bank's website, contact them through other means before replying. Your bank will never ask you for this type of data via email; they may ask you to verify transactions if needed. Do not respond to messages asking for sensitive data (e.g., login credentials) even if they appear to come from a company you trust. Do not click on any links or open attachments within suspicious emails; this could trigger malware downloads without your knowledge. If you receive a phone call from someone asking for personal information, hang up and do not provide them with any details. Instead, look for the contact number on official, not malicious websites and verify whether the request is legitimate before acting (e.g., call your bank back and ask if there is any pending transaction). Please make sure all devices used by family members are password protected to prevent unauthorized access when they are away (e.g., kids could play games instead of doing their homework when left unsupervised). Beware of calls, messages, or emails coming from individuals claiming to work for Microsoft Technical Support; Microsoft does not make unsolicited phone calls to help you fix your computer, install anti-virus software updates, or provide remote access.
Please make sure all devices used by family members are password protected to prevent unauthorized access when they are away (e.g., kids could play games instead of doing their homework when left unsupervised). Also, beware of calls, messages, or emails coming from individuals claiming to work for Microsoft Technical Support; Microsoft does not make unsolicited phone calls to help you fix your computer, install software updates, or provide remote access.
Even though social engineering phishing attacks are challenging to detect and defend against without the necessary education on the topic, some practical security measures can be implemented today with relative ease. Also, keep in mind that any employees who handle sensitive data (e.g., bank account information, social engineers security numbers) should already be aware of the dangers of sharing this type of information with strangers over the phone or through email messages. However, with that being said, there are currently no silver bullets to prevent social engineering attacks from occurring.
A more secure way of dealing with online accounts is using multi-factor authentication (MFA), which requires users to input a one-time code sent via SMS to their mobile phones every time they access an application or website where sensitive data is stored. This process can also be done entirely within the browser by installing an extension app for Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Apple Safari browsers. However, this technology might not be available everywhere yet, especially in developing countries, due to high phone prices and the lack of mobile phone service in certain areas, making it difficult for people to stay connected.
Other than that, users must know what type of information is being requested when registering an account or changing their password over the phone or through email messages. They should never disclose this data unless they are 100% sure about the request's legitimacy since this practice could lead to identity theft.
While it's not always possible to prevent social engineering attacks from happening, these tips will help you keep your accounts safe while surfing online: Keep all devices updated with the latest available anti malicious software versions. Decrease exposure by using secure networks only (e.g., avoid public Wi-Fi hotspots if they cannot be guaranteed). Never engage in conversations with people who are not trustworthy, no matter how convincing they are. Keep your security information private (e.g., passwords or PIN codes) by not sharing them with anyone. Beware of phishing emails, phone calls, or messages asking for personal details.
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