It’s safe to say that the most vulnerable part of any organization is its employees “the human factor”. Social engineering is one of the top techniques in initiating a cyber attack which makes it crucial for all individuals and organizations to be well educated on the matter. Social Engineering is an act used by attackers to manipulate the general public into providing classified/personal information. The details extracted (i.e.passwords, bank information) from the victims are used to gain access to control over the internal network of an organization. Usually, the attacker intends to either exploit the organization’s reputation, make money out of it, or just for fun.
How Does It Work?
Social Engineers utilize a set of strategies to do so:
First, the social engineer will research and analyze their victim of choice. If it’s an organization, the attacker will collect information on the representative structure, inward tasks, and possible business partners, amongst other data. Concentrating on the practices and patterns of employees is one technique. Social engineers can also look for the victim’s social media profiles for data and study their reaction online and in person.
From that point, the hacker can structure an attack based on the data gathered and take advantage of the weakness revealed amid the observation stage.
If the attack is effective, hackers approach delicate information (e.g., credit card or banking information) have made money off the objects or have accessed secured frameworks or networks.
Types of Attacks:
- Baiting: when an attacker intentionally places the bait (usually an infected malware media, i.e. USB) in a place where the victim will see it. The bait might have a label on it that will spark the victim’s curiosity. As a result, the victim will pick up the bait and load it onto his/her computer, unintentionally installing the malware.
- Phishing: occurs when an anonymous entity sends a fraudulent email as if it’s a legitimate email coming from a company/person. This attack aims to fool the receiver for them to share a piece of confidential information to them. Their way of attack is either by sending a link that will install a malware directly after opening the link or by tricking the victim to share confidential information.
- Spear phishing: similar to phishing but aimed for an individual or an organization.
- Vishing: also known as voice phishing, it’s conducted via phone-call as a means of communication with the victims to gather personal and financial information. Impersonating someone from an organization or pretending to be part of a specific organization.
- Pretexting: is when one party lies to another to gain access to privileged data for confirmation.
- Scareware: it involves tricking the victim into thinking his computer is infected with malware or has inadvertently downloaded illegal content. The attacker then offers the victim a solution that will fix the issue. Whereas, the victim merely is tricked into downloading and installing the attacker’s malware.
- Water-holing: when an attacker infects websites that are mainly used by members of a group that are known to visit, which will result in compromising the network of the targeted group.
- Honey trap: it occurs when the attacker attempts to attract the victim using romance as a tool to obtain sensitive information by starting a fake online relationship.
- Tailgating: also called piggybacking, is the case when the hacker is tailing somebody who has an entrance card of a secured building, room or floor. This attack presumes the individual with real access to the building is sufficiently affable to hold the entryway open for the individual behind them, accepting they are permitted to be there.
- Rogue: fooling victims into paying to remove a malware that doesn’t even exist.
Security specialists suggest that IT departments consistently do Penetration Testing (it’s the act of testing a PC framework, network or web app to discover security weaknesses that an attacker could abuse) using social engineering techniques. This regime will enable admins to realize which sort of clients represent the most hazard for specific types of attacks, while also distinguishing which employees require extra preparation.
Security Awareness can help with preventing social engineering attack, too. If the general public knows the form of this attack, they will be more aware, and chances will be less for them to become victims.
Keeping updated firmware and software is crucial, thus making it essential for companies to implement Secure Email and Web Gateways to scan all emails for any suspicious or malicious links and filter them out to reduce the risk of employees clicking them. Additionally, organizations should keep track of the employees that deal with sensitive information and enable advanced authentication measures for them.