What is social engineering attack and how can you prevent it?
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What is social engineering attack and how can you prevent it?

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here are many forms of cybercrime and as a business owner, it pays to know about each of them. Hacking attempts are common and businesses, both large and small, have suffered because of the criminals who have gained access to their confidential data and bank accounts.  

Hackers are using increasingly sophisticated methods to exploit businesses, one of these being social engineering.

Social engineering is the art of manipulating the victim so that they give up their personal information. Social engineering attacks are one of the most common forms of cybercrime today.

What Is A Social Engineering Attack?

A social engineering attack is a manipulative attempt by a criminal to gain access to confidential information. Hackers pose as somebody that the victim might trust, such as a friend or a bank manager.  

A social engineering attack can come in the form of an email or social media message with a link to a fake website. When the victim accesses this fake website, they are encouraged to leave their personal details, which are then used by the criminal for nefarious purposes. Such information can include passwords or bank account login details.  

A social engineering attack can also come in the form of a personal request, such as a message from a friend asking the victim for their bank details under the pretense that they need money in an urgent situation.

One of the biggest examples of a social engineering attack was perpetrated by Evaldas Rimasauskas, a Lithuanian national who set up bank accounts in the name of Google and Facebook. He then targeted employees of these companies with phishing emails asking them to deposit funds in the fake bank accounts that he had set up. He was convicted of the crime but the message is clear, nobody is immune to this form of manipulation, not even the biggest businesses in the world.  

While hackers are constantly coming up with new ways to fleece their victims, social engineering is still one of the most deceptive methods. We are all taught to be wary of strangers asking us for our personal information but when the requests come from people that we think we know, it can be easy to fall for the scam. To protect ourselves, we need to understand the latest social engineering trends.

Social Engineering Trends To Watch Out For In 2021

The more knowledgeable you are about the latest social engineering trends, the safer you will be. The following social engineering trends are up-to-date but it should be noted that hackers are continuously trying to deceive us into giving over our personal information. It is important to stay aware of every new and emerging threat to your business.  

Phishing scams

Phishing is a common social engineering attack and it is easy to fall for. Usually carried out via emails and messaging services, the victim is normally encouraged to visit a link or download a document. The link could be to a website where they are asked to enter their personal information, such as a fake charity web page. The downloadable document could be a file that contains a certain type of malware.  

More recently, business owners have been targeted with messages purporting to be from the HMRC with offers of tax refunds and financial aid. Check out some examples of HMRC phishing scams here.  

In many cases, individuals are targeted with personal messages, usually because the hacker has gained information from the person's website or social media pages, this is known as spear phishing.

Diversion theft

Have you ever waited in for a package and then discovered that it has been diverted elsewhere? This is likely to be the fault of the courier company but it is also possible that you may have been the victim of diversion theft. This is a con exercise by a criminal who tricks the courier company into delivering a package to a fake address. They do this by acting as the victim (or a representative of the victim) and then take ownership of the package in question.

CEO fraud

This is a type of spear phishing email attack in which the hacker impersonates a company's CEO. The hacker will trick the victim into transferring money to the supposed bank account of the CEO or they will encourage them to reveal sensitive company information.

Deepfakes

Described by The Guardian as the 21st century's answer to photoshopping, deepfake technology is used to create fake videos, images, or recordings of real people. It started off by people editing the faces of celebrities onto pornographic actors to make people think that they were in the films, it is now being used as the latest form of social engineering attacks. Victims could mistakenly think that they are watching a video from their IT manager asking for login information or they could think they are listening to a voice recording from their employer, when really they are being scammed by a criminal.

Take a look at these deepfake videos for some fun examples of the way this technology is being used, but learn from them too. If people can replicate the likeness of Tom Cruise in a video, could they replicate the people that you know and trust in your life?

How To Avoid A Social Engineering Attack?

It is possible to avoid a social engineering attack, here are some of the ways that you can do so:  

  • Double-check the URL of a website before clicking on an email link
  • Think twice before downloading something from an external source
  • Delete any requests for passwords or bank information
  • Secure your computer devices with anti-virus software, firewalls, and email filters
  • Never transfer funds if you are not 100% sure of the recipient's authenticity
  • Speak to a cybersecurity professional for expert advice and training

Conclusion

If you would like to know more about the social engineering attacks that are prevalent today and want help in protecting yourselves from them, please get in touch with us today at Gemraj Technologies Ltd.

We have years of experience in the cybersecurity field and can offer you help as and when you need it.

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