What is social engineering?

Published by Benjamin Elveng on

How can you prevent social engineering attacks?

Social engineering is the term covering a broad range of malicious online activities. The goal is to gain access to systems, company data and even personal data. 

Social engineering attacks start with human interaction and secondly manipulation. The manipulation is designed to deceive people into breaching standard security protocols. These attacks often succeed due to human trust. Cyber criminals have learned to portrait a colleague and carefully word emails or text messages to convince the people to share their confidential data or download malware onto their devices. Remember, this can happen both in a professional and personal setting. 

95% of cyber security breaches are caused by human error

How does an attack start and what’s the process for a fraudster when doing a social engineering attack? We have broken it down into steps to give you an idea of the most common form of social engineering: 

1 – The fraudster starts by doing research

Social engineering is built upon a great deal of research in order to learn everything about the target person or organization. This can be stalking you or a company online via social media, search engines or even going through your trash. The information gathered in this phase is for the purpose of exploitation later on. Needless to say, knowledge is power. 

2 – The fraudster takes the research and forms a plan

Planning the attack is often entwined in the research phase, where a form of strategy is planned. This is done in order to find the right victim depending on the attacker’s endgame – whether it is stealing data, information or installing malware

3 – The fraudster contacts the victim

After carefully researching and planning the attack, the hacker will initiate contact with the selected target. The hacker will establish a trusted bond with the person and thereby turning the person into an insider threat. 

4 – The fraudsters’ final play

After either intimidating or befriending the target, the attacker can act out the final stage of the plan. This can be to cause unlimited damage to a company’s network, stealing bank information or other confidential data. 

The motivation for the hacker is the reward. The is considered the pay day for the hacker. The pay day can be in terms of stealing bank account information, data to sell on the dark web and much more. This makes social engineering a lucrative business. 

How you can stay safe online

The digital world of do’s and don’ts can be hard to navigate. We believe security awareness training is a good place to start in preventing social engineering attacks. You on a personal level and employees at a company should be aware of the danger of these attacks. More importantly, how to act if contacted by a potential hacker. However, we do realize it can be a difficult job educating everyone online of the cyber-crime dangers. We know it can seem complicated and hard to figure out. Not to worry! Our software solution, ReTrust, can help your business prevent cyber-crimes such as fraud, social engineering, phishing and more – thereby creating digital trust. ReTrust is built on advanced IBM Trusteer technology that will scan and monitor all traffic of your online sessions. So you can feel safe online, knowing ReTrust is right there protecting you from fraudsters. 

And on that note – stay alert and safe when operating online!

Request a demo