In this post, we’re going to talk about the most common social engineering attacks and different ways of stopping them.
We’ll also explain:
- What is social engineering?
- Why do social engineering attacks happen?
- What do these attacks impact?
- Worst cases of online social engineering.
So, if you want to know the most effective ways of protecting your company from widely spread social engineering attacks, keep reading.
What is social engineering?
Social engineering represents malicious (online) activities that trick people into revealing confidential information or providing access to resources (usually money).
RPA (robotics process automation) can be one of the solutions to this problem, as it can perform different manual tasks such as accounts validation and verification of incoming mail.
Examples of top social engineering attacks
Cybercriminals have learned various ways of convincing people to transfer money, provide information, or download a file infected with malware. Five of the most common social engineering attacks are:
One of the most common types of social engineering attacks. Attackers use emails and text messages that contain links to malicious websites, or attachments with malware. It is hard to ignore these cyberattacks because they create a sense of urgency, curiosity, or fear among victims. In 2016, Verizon Enterprise reported that 30 percent of phishing emails were opened by the recipient and 13 percent of those clicked on the link or attachment.
Spear-phishing targets specific individuals or enterprises. These attacks are much harder to detect because the email is signed and looks like one a victim would normally receive from their IT support, for example. As a test spear-phishing attack, a security consultant pretended to be an IT engineer. He found out that 85 percent of employees whom he contacted gave out information which he had requested. In one of the biggest social engineering attacks – Carbanak -attackers managed to record how the company’s system works and steal almost $1 billion dollars.
Cybercriminals use physical media (flash drives with labels like “payroll list”) or online forms (appealing ads) to lure users into a trap. Those items seem beneficial but are actually loaded with malware.
This type of attack often comes in the form of popup banners and alerts on the web browser. Users think their system is infected with malware, and they install software that should help them, but, in reality, is malware itself.
The attacker usually pretends to be a co-worker, company supplier, police, or bank official. In that way, attackers can easily get users to believe them and steal security numbers, personal addresses and phone numbers, or bank records from them.
The challenges of social engineering security
Social engineering incidents happen because of mistakes made by people. There are three top challenges of social engineering security are:
Attackers use fear, stress, and anxiety that comes with filing taxes, for example, to send emails to victims stating they are under investigation for tax fraud.
Cybercriminals use events and news to take advantage of human curiosity. They trick people into opening emails by offering leaked data about a current trend or topic. For example, when Robin Williams passed away, a phishing message invited users to click a link and see an exclusive video of him saying his final goodbye.
An example of this is when an email is sent out to the staff requesting an accounting database password to ensure the manager pays everyone on time, and employees take the bait and send it believing they are helping out.
How to stop social engineering attacks
There are different ways to stop these attacks from happening. Some of them are simple but go a long way in protecting your company.
- Don’t open emails and attachments from suspicious sources. If you don’t know the sender, don’t open it. If you know them, but are suspicious about the request, check and confirm they did send it before acting on the request.
- Multi Factor authentication can protect your account in case of an attack.
- Implement modern antivirus/anti malware software. It can identify and remove malicious emails before they reach an employee’s inbox.
How to prevent employees from avoiding security protocols
As a way to prevent employees from avoiding security protocols you should:
- Create security policies that clarify whom employees can share information with and how.
- Create official channels for staff to contact security and IT personnel.
How to train end users to avoid social engineering
Social engineering consequences can be prevented by informing employees and training them to detect and avoid them.
- Provide regular security awareness training that outlines common strategies that attackers use.
- Training should be personalized – employees should relate to content and situations used in it.
- Use simulations and tests to check how well employees are prepared to prevent these attacks.
If you’re worried about social engineering attacks, Demakis Technologies can help you!