In the simplest terms, social engineering is manipulation. It plays on the frailty of the human psyche.
According to CSO, it doesn’t matter if your company has the best defensive technologies and physical security in place. If a sneaky social engineer can trick your employee into giving out a password, you’re still at risk.
There are several aspects of social engineering in the business world that you need to know about so you can avoid it.
Pretexting involves setting up a false scenario such as pretending to be an official from a bank. The victim thinks they’re talking, emailing or texting someone legitimate who just needs more information about an account. Sometimes the attacker even pretends to be providing an IT service.
The attacker will then insist that certain information is needed in order to fix a problem or to confirm an employee’s identity. This method relies on exploiting a relationship built on trust.
Digital Guardian defines tailgating as a situation in which someone without authorization simply follows someone with authorization into a restricted space. This is a type of physical social engineering.
For example, someone might ask to borrow your access card, claiming they forgot their own. Or someone might ask to use your laptop or phone, using the opportunity to install a virus. The absolute simplest example is when one person asks another to hold a door open for them.
This is probably the most common form of social engineering used. Fraudulent information is passed off as legitimate in an attempt to get you to install malware on your network, computer or mobile device.
Most of these kinds of cyberattacks begin with an email. Unfortunately, many of your employees may assume email is basically safe. All it takes is one employee clicking on the wrong link.
Baiting happens when someone puts a malware-infected CD or flash drive in a place where another person is likely to find it.
The attacker is counting on someone finding the infected device and loading it onto their computer. Once it has been loaded the attacker has access to that person’s system . . . and you have a potential data disaster.
Tips for avoiding social engineering
The first step for avoiding social engineering is knowing who and what you can really trust. No matter what industry you’re in, there are several steps your organization should take to prevent social engineers from wreaking havoc.
Conduct random tests
You should periodically test your employees to discern how easily they succumb to various social engineering threats.
Reduce phishing attacks by refraining from opening any links in emails from unknown senders. When in doubt, it’s always better to delete suspicious emails.
You can eliminate pretexting and tailgating by insisting on identification before letting anyone enter any area of your business.
Social engineers are constantly changing and upgrading their tricks, making it imperative to keep your staff trained and updated on what to look out for and avoid.
Choose the right IT company
An experienced IT company should be reliable, responsive and have years of experience and expertise.
Social engineering can be just as complex as hacking. The only real difference is it adds an especially frustrating psychological twist.
We highly recommend partnering with an IT provider who understands all levels of security your company needs. Complete IT support should include technology as well as thorough employee training.