Social Engineering: A Very Real Threat

by | Oct 6, 2016 | Security

It’s human nature to make mistakes—no one is perfect. Hackers take advantage of this fact when they trick people into revealing personal information online such as login information or into downloading malware often cleverly disguised as a link or email attachment. Social engineering is a continuing threat for small to medium businesses and will continue to be since technology is used every single day around the business world.

Social Engineering

Hackers have a wide variety of tactics to use social engineering against online users, for their own benefit.

Phishing is the most common social engineering tactic. This tactic involves sending emails disguised as a type of offer, promotion or sometimes as an individual customer. This form of social engineering is a threat to small to medium sized businesses. For example, a phishing email can convince an email user that they owe money, and request the user to download an invoice, which disguises the malware. When businesses or employers fall for phishing scams, they put their personal information and point of sale (PoS) systems at risk, creating the chance for customer’s financial information to be stolen.

Pretexting is another tactic of social engineering where hackers focus on creating a fabricated situation that they can use to steal a user’s personal information. Usually, these types of attacks are hidden in messages asking for certain pieces of information from their victim. This tactic relies on building false trust with the victim so as to leave little doubt in their victim’s mind, opening the way for them to reveal their information.

Baiting is a tactic similar to phishing. This form of social engineering is used when offers are presented to the online user, such as free music or movie downloads if they log in with their credentials and information.

Take Precaution and Protect Your Business

There are active steps your company can take to prevent the threat of social engineering to negatively affect your business and employees. First, make sure you take the proper security precautions. Make sure all passwords are strong, update security settings. Hackers can gain access into systems if the passwords used are weak and common, and also by looking up default login credentials of the hardware. When you don’t keep up with software updates, you risk leaving your system vulnerable, and hackers will take advantage. Also make sure to avoid connecting to public and open Wi-Fi connections when possible, because doing that lets hackers know that they have a welcome invitation to look around your business’s information.

Some more ways that you can help you and your business from falling victim to social engineering attacks is to remember to never open emails from untrusted sources, never accepting offers from untrusted sources, and purchase and install anti-virus software.  IT consulting services can help you assess your business for security risks and make recommendations to improve business continuity and data security processes.

Learn More

Social engineering will continue to remain a threat to businesses and their employees. Human nature leaves employers vulnerable to these attacks, but you can take proactive steps to raise your awareness and take the proper precautions and steps to prevent social engineering attacks from happening to your business. Contact Us for more information on how to avoid the social engineering threat in your business.

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