Social Engineering Attacks: 5 Things You Need to Know

Modern businesses must go to great lengths to protect themselves against the ongoing dangers presented by cybercrime. The wrong software stack, employee, or website can leave networks and systems vulnerable, compromising the organization’s capacity to deliver service.

Understanding potential threats and how to mitigate them is essential for creating resilient business models.

It’s important to note that not all cyberattacks are created the same. While some are designed to take advantage of exploitations in software and other pre-designed systems, others use targeted tactics to trick unsuspecting employees into giving away important information.

Ths “social engineering” is a unique challenge for many businesses because it’s less predictable and more prone to lapses by legitimate users.

What are Social Engineering Attacks?

While malicious online activity is more often perceived as software-facing, there are many alternative methods that malicious actors can use to penetrate targeted systems.

Social engineering is a broad category of malicious criminal behavior associated with human behavior. This tactic commonly involves interacting in the real world with legitimate users to gain access to credentials, personal information, and other password-related information.

There are many different methods that malicious actors might use to break common security conventions. Some oft-used social engineering attacks include:

  • Phishing
  • Whaling
  • Baiting
  • Pretexting
  • Quid-pro-quo

IT directors and cybersecurity professionals should take care to educate their staff about the dangers of social engineering attacks and explain common prevention methods. With the right knowledge, any business, no matter its size, can be protected against social engineering attacks.

5 Things to Know About Social Engineering Attacks

Of the many malicious activities that occur online, social engineering represents one of the more complicated to deter. Malicious actors employ a variety of subtle psychological tactics meant to trick individuals into giving away specific pieces of information that attackers can then use to gain access to restricted systems.

Criminals constantly employ subtle manipulation tactics designed to trick unwilling individuals into giving out private data or downloading malicious code.

By making sure systems are tightly secured and building a knowledgeable user base, IT directors and cybersecurity professionals can prevent social engineering attacks from occurring within their businesses. Here are 5 things you should know about these attacks:

1. No Time to Think

Malicious actors know that people who feel pressure are more likely to make mistakes. They will use deadlines and other time-limited language to make it seem as though the information is required right away. This approach allows them to more easily gain access to restricted systems and compromise private data.

Businesses should make sure their employees are aware of the dangers of urgent or high-pressure messaging. Employees should take the time to consider the sender and whether they are presenting a legitimate request.

Having a verification process in place for users to determine whether messages are authorized can save a lot of time and energy and prevent the compromise of important infrastructure.

2. Targeted Identities

One trick that social engineers often use to access data is to steal the identities of legitimate users. More than a third of social engineering attacks occur through “phishing.”

By calling individuals within the organization and asking them specific, seemingly innocuous questions, these attackers can get the information they need to access user accounts. Businesses should be extra careful when dealing with any user-related data, no matter who is accessing it.

Individuals within an organization should know never to give out personal information, especially over the phone or email. They should immediately tag any request for personal information as potentially malicious and communicate the incident to their IT support team.

IT directors and cybersecurity professionals should have protocols in place for determining if any information request is valid or whether the sender has malicious intent.

3. A Viral Link

The quickest way for a system to be compromised is for a malicious payload to be downloaded directly onto a device. Businesses should be constantly cognizant of potential email and phishing schemes meant to distribute malicious code to unsuspecting users.

Just clicking a link is enough to infect a user’s computer or device with potential malware.

To prevent social engineering attacks from succeeding, IT directors and cybersecurity professionals need to have a solid understanding of how payloads are delivered.

Suspicious emails, programs, and other software applications should be carefully vetted to ensure they don’t contain harmful code. Users should take care to never click on embedded links, and suspicious activities should be reported directly to IT.

4. The Safety Net

All of the individual user-level devices and systems within a network present a huge attack surface for cyber-criminals. When it comes to social engineering, this just gives malicious actors more targets to work with. Businesses should ensure they have a safety net in place for individuals who might be compromised for whatever reason.

To reduce the potential for social engineering attacks to succeed, IT directors and cybersecurity professionals should take the necessary steps to secure user devices.

By doing continuous updates, deploying antivirus software and tools, and eliminating potential gaps in security infrastructure, businesses can mitigate the harm when social engineering attacks do occur.

5. Being a Mindful User

Malicious actors are always finding new and unique ways to gain access to restricted data. This variety can be difficult for businesses because investing in new technologies and infrastructure isn’t always a valid solution.

Social engineering attacks are designed to overcome these barriers by taking advantage of the human element. This approach makes it more difficult for IT professionals to reinforce their security policies.

Because these tactics target employees, IT directors and cybersecurity professionals should take care to ensure their workforces have the necessary training and knowledge. Signatures, greetings, spelling, and layout in emails should all be carefully scrutinized for legitimacy.

Businesses should adopt good user practices as a core tool in their cyber defense arsenal. By keeping users up to date with the latest trends in cybersecurity, malicious criminals won’t have as many angles to work with when attempting to penetrate a system.

Defend Against Social Engineering Attacks with Touchstone Security

Is your business equipped to handle a potential data breach? Social engineering attacks pose a major security risk to your organization’s integrity. At Touchstone Security, we’re building cutting-edge solutions to meet the demands of even the most pressing cybersecurity needs.

With our scalable, secure, and reliable IT environments, your business will have all it needs to mitigate the dangers posed by social engineering.

Touchstone Security’s experienced staff represents the best that military training and experience have to offer. Our decades of IT and cybersecurity knowledge are leveraged by over a hundred businesses worldwide to deal with the most critical issues.

We’re sure that you’ll come to see us as another part of your company, rather than an external agency.

Don’t compromise your sensitive data by leaving it vulnerable to social engineering attacks. Contact Touchstone Security about your cloud security program today.