Digital Social Engineering: Common Attack Techniques and Prevention

Digital Social Engineering

Whether you’re an individual looking to keep yourself safe or a business person trying to keep your company secure, there are a lot of things you need to worry about. Digital social engineering is among them.

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Social engineering is not one simple thing. The term covers several malicious activities that use psychological manipulation to trick internet users into giving information. In most cases, the criminals get access to security or sensitive information.

These attacks are done through a process or series of steps. Any criminal would first investigate the victim and determine what they need to know to proceed with their attack. After that, the attacker will try to gain the victim’s trust and get them to reveal sensitive information or allow access to confidential data.

As an individual, you will need to be very vigilant to keep yourself safe. As a company, you need to hire the services of experts like Cytelligence to have a social engineering campaign and keep your employees and business protected.

The usual cybersecurity practices are implemented to keep software or computer systems safe. But social engineering relies on human error. That is unpredictable and incredibly more challenging to identify.

So, let’s get into the common digital social engineering attacks and ways to prevent them.

Common Social Engineering Methods

Bait or Baiting Attacks

Baiting attacks try to pique their victim’s greed and curiosity by making false promises. This way, the victims readily give out their sensitive information one way or another.

Baiting can either be in the real world or online. The attackers try to use physical media to disperse malware into their victims’ systems to gather sensitive information.

For instance, the attacker might leave a flash drive or micro SD with a label on it to create interest in whoever sees it. The victims generally pick it up to satisfy their curiosity, and they insert it into their home or work computers. The rest depends on what the malware is programmed to do.

These attacks can also be online, in the form of advertisements leading to malicious websites that ask users to download infected files.

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Phishing Attacks

Phishing attacks are among the oldest and most common types of social engineering techniques. These attacks target their victim’s curiosity or fear, or create a sense of urgency through texts and emails. It then gets them to click on links leading to malicious sites, opening infected attachments, or revealing private information.

For instance, an attacker might send an email to users of an online service, saying that they need to take immediate action to resolve an issue of sorts.

In these situations, people generally click the links without thinking much because they want to get to the bottom of the problem as soon as possible.

Then, they enter their login information to sign in to their account on a fake site that mimics the legitimate one. The attackers then get a hold of their data.

These emails or messages are created for the masses and sent to many users at once. They are also more or less similar. For those reasons, these are generally easily identified by security software these days.

Spear Phishing Attacks

Spear phishing attacks are usually carried out the same way as common phishing scams. But, these are specifically made for an individual or an organization.

In spear phishing, the emails or messages are customized based on the job positons, characterizes, or the contacts familiar to the victim. These things can make them seem more legitimate, increasing the chances of the attack being successful.

Attacks that use this technique generally put in weeks or months of effort, making spear phishing incredibly dangerous. These are much more challenging to detect, and the attack has a higher success rate.

Preventing Social Engineering Attacks

Since these attacks manipulate human psychology, there is no sure way to eliminate or prevent them. However, you can devise digital social engineering campaigns and adopt some practices in your daily life.

You should be careful about:

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Emails and Attachments

If you don’t know the sender of the SMS or email, then you shouldn’t open it at all. If you know the sender but the mail seems somewhat suspicious, then you should call them or contact in another way to confirm it.

Tempting Offers

If you are getting a tempting offer from any source, you should not get excited too quickly. Before clicking on it or accepting anything, you must do some research and clear up the question about its legitimacy.

Many people get too excited and click without thinking twice, like a reflex action.

Sophisticated Authentication

Attackers generally go after their victim’s user credentials. These could be of anything, from social media to online banking.

While you can’t have control over third parties’ authorization methods, you can increase security for your systems. Also, you can find some software that offers higher protection for all applications.