Introduction

Many people are curious to know about what is Social Engineering, having heard this term multiple times. In simple words, social engineering is a people manipulation art to trust the person completely and share their confidential information. Usually, criminals and scamsters look for this information. Once they have this information handy with them, they can trick people into giving them their bank information or passwords.

They can install malicious malware on the computer and hack it to access private information. This understanding of social engineering meaning can help people be aware of this scam and up their guard.  Thus, it is prudent to stay safe than sorry.

  1. Social Engineering Definition
  2. Social Engineering Attacks
  3. Examples of Social Engineering Attacks
  4. Tips to Stay Protected Against Social Engineering Attacks

1. Social Engineering Definition

Social Engineering is defined as taking advantage of human weakness. It entails tricking someone into enabling access to data networks or divulging confidential information. It is a kind of deception that manipulate people and take their advantage. 

2. Social Engineering Attacks

Social engineering attacks can be performed from anywhere where there is even the slightest chance of human interaction. Here are a few different forms of social engineering attacks that everyone must know about. 

A) Baiting

It is one of the most prominent examples of social media engineering. In baiting, the attacker piques the curiosity or greed of the victim by using a false promise. Their attacks help lure users into a trap that hack their systems, install malware, or steal their personal information. Baiting’s most reviled form disperses malware using physical media. Baiting takes place both in the physical and virtual worlds, resulting in a loss for the victim. 

B) Scareware

In this type of social engineering attack, victims are constantly bombarded with fictitious threats and false alarms. Potential victims are deceived, and they start thinking that their system is malware-infected. This results in the installation of no real-benefit software, fraudware, or rogue scanner software. 

C) Pretexting

In this type of attack, the attacker gets information on a potential victim through several well-crafted lives. The perpetrator initiates a scam pretending to need sensitive information necessary to perform a vital task. The scam begins with attackers establishing a sense of trust with the victims. It can be done by impersonating police, co-workers, tax or bank officials, or people with authority. They ask a series of questions on the pretext of confirming the identity of the victim. It helps them to collect personal data, which helps them to pull off an attack.

D) Phishing

It is one of the most prominent types of social engineering attacks. In such a scam, the attacker sends a text or email message campaign that aims at creating curiosity, a sense of urgency, and fear in victims. This results in the victims clicking on malicious website links, revealing sensitive information, opening malware attached attachments, and more. 

E) Spear Phishing

It is a focused or targeted form of phishing. In this scam, the attacker targets specific enterprises or individuals. They personalize the messages based on job positions, characteristics, and contacts that belong to the victims making the attack less ambiguous. This type of phishing requires more effort on the attacker as it may take months together to pull it off. Its success rate is high and is tough to detect. 

3. Examples of Social Engineering Attacks

Let us check out examples of social engineering and how it can result in a loss for the victim. 

A) Baiting

The attackers carry out this attack by leaving a bait, which can be in the form of malware-infected flash drives in ambiguous areas. The potential victims see these areas as it looks very authentic. Once clicked, it results in the installation of malware on the system.

B) Scareware

The most common way of scareware attack is legitimate-looking pop-up banners coming up in the browser while surfing the net. It may display messages like “Your computer may be affected with severe malware.” It then offers to install tools to remove this malware. 

C) Pretexting

In this example of social engineering cyber attacks, the attacker may call the potential victim as a bank official and ask him questions in a way to find out the identity and other details of the victim. They find out the account details, which are then used to rob them of their money. 

D) Phishing

In such a scam, the attackers send an email or a text message to the potential victims alerting them of a specific policy violation. They need to change their password. They may send an illegitimate link clicking on which the victim is prompted to enter new password details that reaches the attacker.

E) Spear Phishing

In this case of social engineering threat, the attacker may impersonate an Information Technology Consultant and send an email to employees signed and worded exactly like the authentic person. This message results in the victim changing his password or click on a link that leads them to a malicious website. 

4. Tips to Stay Protected Against Social Engineering Attacks

We understand that social engineering hacks work by manipulating human emotions. Thus, it is important to stay protected from these attacks using some simple tips. 

  • Refrain from opening attachments and emails from suspicious sources.
  • Use multifactor authentication.
  • Keep your antimalware or antivirus software updated.
  • Be wary of tempting offers as it can lure you into sharing your confidential information. 

Following these simple tips can ensure your safety from social engineering attacks.

A) Protection

You need to take up some important steps to ensure protection from social engineering hacking. Here are a few steps that can protect you-

  • Always make it a point to check the source from where communication is coming before clicking on it. 
  • See if the person communicating with you does not have information that you expect them to have because authorized institutions always have relevant data on you before they get in touch with you.
  • Take a moment, break the loop, and do not react in a hurry.
  • Ask for Identity details. 
  • Use a good spam filter.

Conclusion

This post answers your questions on what is social engineering and how to stay protected from malicious attacks. 

So, have you made up your mind to make a career in Cyber Security? Visit our Master Certificate in Cyber Security (Red Team) for further help. It is the first program in offensive technologies in India and allows learners to practice in a real-time simulated ecosystem, that will give you an edge in this competitive world.

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