What is Social Engineering and What Makes it a Big Concern?

Digitalization has simplified many essential activities of our lives but it has also helped cybercriminals upgrade their strategies to perform cybercrime activities.

Social engineering is one of the prime cases of upgraded cybercriminal activities. 

Social engineering is a strategy applied by cybercriminals to trick people into obtaining their valuable and private information.

The confidential information is useful in getting control of systems and accomplishing actions to negatively impact the individual or even the organization with the data accessed by the cybercrooks.

To make sure their company’s sensitive data is secure, many companies hire information security vendors who test employees’ security awareness for such attacks.

What Makes Social Engineering Attacks A Big Concern?

  • An average organization faces 700+ social engineering attacks every year
  • As per reports utilizing Social engineering attacks, cyber crooks are able to make their way into 93% of company networks
  • Over 90% of data spills are related to social engineering attacks
  • An employee receives 14 malicious emails on average every year
What Is Social Engineering and How Does It Work?

How Does Social Engineering Work?

Social engineering is a universal tactic used by cybercriminals when performing a cyberattack. Scammers mainly target users in two primary ways: either on the phone or online.

  • On Phone. Cybercriminals act as some authority figure during a phone call, like a senior manager, a high-ranking banking officer, or anyone with a superior designation.
    Acting as the authority figure, they will throw some questions at the users to win their trust.
    After establishing them as verified officials, the criminal will demand confidential data like login passwords.
  • Online. Digitalization has led to the emergence of new online ways to perform cybercrime practices.
    Phishing is a widely used practice among cybercriminals. Using the aforementioned technique, scammers mislead victims into revealing their private information to a fraud link, believing it is an authentic website.

4 Phases of a Social Engineering Attack

  • Detecting. Cybercriminals start by marking out targets who own what the crooks require. They usually require credentials, information, money, and access to the systems.
  • Searching Entry Points. Once the cybercriminals learn enough about their targets, they will be looking for proper entry points. Entry points may include contact details like a phone number, social media handles, and email ID.
  • Attack. Luring or misleading potential victims, cybercriminals perform social engineering attacks. They execute one of the multiple categories of social engineering attacks to obtain what they want.
  • Retreat. Once the scammers are done, they will disappear with minimal or even no evidence left behind. As the average time is more than 150 days to detect a cyber attack, the criminals will vanish easily.

Common Social Engineering Attacks

  • Phishing. Targets will receive malicious emails 
  • Spear Phishing. This is a common strategy used to attack an organization. This email will only be sent to employees with decision-making powers
  • Whaling. Email attacks on the higher-ranked executives of an organization
  • Vishing. Over the phone, manipulation to access the confidential data
  • Smishing. Mobile texts will be sent to manipulate the potential targets

Tactics Organizations Can Imply to Test Their Staff

Emulating cyber criminal activities organizations can test their staff to spread awareness of social engineering attacks.

These tactics can also be called principles of social engineering attacks.

They can hire professional help for these tactics to be applied. 

  • Authority. Acting as an authority figure, like a policeman, and senior executives of the organization, forcing the employees to reveal confidential data.
  • Threatening. Threatening the employees with serious outcomes for not performing the actions that are asked.
  • Social Proof. Convincing employees that action is common and everyone performs it.
  • Scarcity. Luring the employees with time-limited offers to perform certain actions.
  • Urgency. Forcing the employees to act immediately without giving them a moment to think.
  • Familiarity. Imitating familiar persons of the employees and asking them to perform the required actions.

The Bottom Line

Social engineering attacks have become one of the most serious concerns in recent years.

An organization suffering from social engineering attacks loses millions to recover its systems.

So, it is better to hire professionals that perform social engineering testing to keep an organization’s staff aware of the malicious activities cybercriminals are utilizing to access valuable and confidential data.

It will save the organization millions of dollars eventually.

Related Posts:

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  2. How to Conduct a Cloud Security Assessment? – 5 Steps
  3. How to Hack into Someone’s Instagram Account
  4. Exposing the Real Person behind a Fake Facebook Account
  5. How to find & trace an IP address of a fake Facebook account?
  6. How Does Cell Phone Taping Work & How To Bug A Cell Phone?
  7. 7 Practical Ways to Hack Facebook Account with Preventive Measures

Ashwin S

A cybersecurity enthusiast at heart with a passion for all things tech. Yet his creativity extends beyond the world of cybersecurity. With an innate love for design, he's always on the lookout for unique design concepts.