Despite the best network security that can be afforded along with stringent security policies, the human element at your organization (employees or yourself included) remain susceptible to hackers. Usually and unfortunately, the human element remains the weakest link, making it the focus for a hacker to breach any organization’s network. We’ll explain what the hack is and how to prevent social engineering attacks.
A Social Engineering Attack
An attack or a hack through which the attacker users social skills through human interaction to obtain or compromise information about an organization or its computer systems is known as a social engineering attack. Essentially, a social engineer lures or charms people into revealing crucial, confidential information that almost always compromises their cyber-security.
It’s an age-old con that is played out in today’s technology-laden world. The ultimate goal is to monetize their attack for a certain gain, through means acquiring information such as login passwords, bank information, System configuration details, etc. Fundamentally, it can be as simple as a cold-call being made by the attacker, pretending to be your insurance or bank representative asking for your bank details. Being proactive to prevent social engineering attacks can save you from a lot of trouble.
A combination of simple questions over will will enable a hacker to assimilate enough information to infiltrate an organization. For these reasons and more, it is important to prevent cyber attacks, even through social engineering.
Some of the most common social engineering attacks include:
- A faux email from a friend: This is a common attack used to obtain information from huge numbers of people. It operates by simply clicking the malicious email attachment or link sent from a known friend, whose address book is originally hacked.
- Phishing Attacks: Phishing just doesn’t go away. A tested, tried and age-old cyber threat that is designed to trick the user into thinking they are filling up forms issued by their banks, software companies, security agencies etc.
- Baiting schemes: Scheming attackers lay bait by keeping abreast with pop culture by harvesting information through new movies, music albums and other media. This is a common in p2p networks such as BitTorrent and we’ll help and explain how to prevent social attacks such as these.
- Random Tech Support: Unsolicited help offered by hackers guised as tech support agents can be tempting, even more-so when it’s being offered free. With the simple click of a button, they can gain access to a user’s computer and network.
Quick Tips on How to Prevent Social Engineering Attacks
- Educate yourself on social engineering. The above information helps but proactively reading about the subject further will help you plenty.
- Reject pings and requests from random, friendly tech support agents. Especially when you didn’t ask for it.
- Ramp up your security with a strong firewall, antivirus program and spam filters set to stun! (High-filtering)
- Be patient and pay attention to the finer details of your emails. Looking closely will help you find red flags, if any.
- Update your software. This includes antivirus programs, operating systems and so on. Do this regularly.
- Pay attention to the URL, of the website you’re visiting. Phishing scams exist because of simple tricks of fooling users such as faux URLs that closely mimic the actual, legit website.
- Verify the source when someone emails, IMs or calls you. Do so before revealing any information of yours.
- Never click on embedded email links, when they are from unknown senders.
- Stick to your guns. If you feel like someone is looking for information they shouldn’t be, be stern and refrain from revealing any information.
With how subtle social engineering attacks are, most victims aren’t aware that they’ve been hacked and it may take several months and even years, to identify a breach. Here are guidelines on what to do if you feel you’ve been on the recieving end of a social engineering hack.
- Change your password by creating a new, stronger password for all your accounts.
- Contact your bank and carefully check your financial statements to see if anything is awry.
- Contact law enforcement agencies to avoid further liabilities in cases of identity theft, etc.
In summation, use your best judgement by always being on guard to prevent social engineering attacks. Social engineering involves a conman taking advantage of you. Just be careful of the information you’re revealing and who you’re revealing it to, particularly when you don’t know them!