According to Tech Target, social engineering is a cybersecurity attack that relies heavily on human interaction and often involves manipulating people into breaking normal security procedures and best practices to gain unauthorized access to private information. Cybercriminals are using social engineering tactics to impersonate a trusted source in order to extract sensitive information. The average organization faces 700 social engineering threats per year (ZDNet). These attacks are becoming more sophisticated and convincing than ever, and it only takes one of your employees to make a mistake and potentially cost your business hundreds of thousands of dollars. Any department or individual employee can be targeted, making these attacks a threat to the entire company. Below discusses what social engineering attacks can look like and how your organization can prevent them and improve your cyber hygiene: 

Types of Social Engineering Attacks  

It only takes one human error to become a victim of a socially engineered attack and hackers are becoming more advanced in their tactics. Being aware and educated on how to spot these attacks will help protect your personal and professional information. Below are a few common types of social engineering attacks to look out for: 

Phishing

Phishing is one of the most common forms of socially engineered attacks, and they occur when hackers attempt to gain sensitive information by acting as a trusted source. The message aims to provoke a sense of fear or urgency to get the recipient to either click on a link or download a file. This can be done through email, text messages, phone calls, and even social media platforms.  

Spear Phishing

Spear phishing attacks target a specific individual within the company. This type of threat tends to be more successful and therefore more dangerous because the message is very carefully crafted by the attacker.  

Vishing

Vishing happens when a scammer attempts to attain personal information out of the victim through a phone call. Cybercriminals may call a company’s front desk or customer service and claim to need sensitive information about an individual. 

Pretexting  

Pretexting involves creating a fake identity and scenario to steal personal information. Hackers will build a false sense of trust with the individual by impersonating a trusted source, claiming they need specific details to confirm their identity. 

Signs to Help you Recognize These Threats  

With social engineering tactics getting more advanced, it is essential to understand what these attacks look like to make sure you do not fall victim. According to Spanning 360, here are a few warning signs to help you recognize social engineering attacks: 

  • Receiving an unusual message from your colleague, manager or someone you know. 
  • Getting deals that are too good to be true. 
  • Receiving a request that offers you something you want in exchange for sensitive company information. 
  • Receiving a request to do something urgently. 
  • Receiving emails, phone calls, text or voice messages to verify your information. 
  • Receiving email requests to change passwords immediately.

How to Prevent Social Engineering Attacks  

Implementing security tools such as Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) and password requirements will help keep hackers out of your environment, and spam filtering and advanced threat protection will help mitigate these attacks from coming in. However, it ultimately comes down to end-user awareness. If your employees are properly educated and understand how to spot an attack, your business will be much less likely to fall victim to a threat. Providing continuous enduser training programs will help improve employee cyber hygiene and protect your business.  

“Security isn’t just an IT concern; it affects your whole organization. Incorporating security into your company culture and educating your employees on how to identify potential threats is a critical piece in protecting your business.”- Drew Rosado, Virtual Chief Information Officer at CompuData.

Working with an IT partner who can offer full managed user-awareness training, as well as implement the proper security tools to your environment will help significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to social engineering tactics. 

CompuData offers IT Security Solutions that extend beyond traditional data protection. We offer a comprehensive solution and train your team to help protect you against cyberthreats. We take a proactive approach that offers flexibility and scalability to strategically protect your organization and improve cyber hygiene. 

If you would like to learn more about how CompuData can help your organization learn, identify and combat social engineering attacks, email us!   

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Author: Taylor Carter

Taylor is a marketing and public relations professional who recently graduated from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She joined CompuData in 2022 as a Marketing Coordinator, working directly with all aspects of the company. Taylor has a passion for writing and helping others share their story.