The Top Social Engineering Tactics Cybercriminals Are Using Right Now

Social engineering refers to a broad spectrum of cyber attacks in which a malicious actor uses psychological manipulation to trick people into sharing sensitive details or clicking on a malicious link. 

These attacks are a huge issue for businesses. It is estimated that 98% of cyber attacks rely on social engineering. In 2021 alone, cybercriminals stole $6.9 billion from social engineering according to the FBI.

Social engineering attacks are particularly successful because they rely on the ‘human factor’. By exploiting human psychology, hackers trick employees into doing their bidding. The victim doesn’t realize that they have been scammed until it’s too late. 

Organizations must defend against these attacks. Otherwise, they will inevitably lose precious money or data. We advise our clients to take a holistic approach to defending against these attacks. 

This starts with having the right security solutions in place, including anti-malware, anti-spam and email security solutions. Security awareness training is vital. By empowering your employees to spot these attacks, you will reduce the likelihood that they will fall victim. 

Here are the top social engineering attacks you need to be aware of to help you and your employees stay vigilant. 

1. Phishing

In a phishing attack, a hacker poses as a trusted person or brand over email and attempts to convince the target either to click on a malicious attachment or share sensitive details such as credit card information or intellectual property.

These emails usually have a sense of urgency to them. This is a psychological trick. By putting pressure on the victim, the hacker hopes they will act quickly without thinking their actions through. 

Phishing emails vary in sophistication and personalization. Poorly written phishing emails are easy to spot. They typically feature spelling and grammar errors and appear to come out of the blue. It’s easy to tell they’re not real if you have a rough idea of what to look for.

However, hackers also create ‘spear-phishing’ emails where they research their target in-depth before launching an attack. This form of scam is much harder to detect for the untrained eye. 

2. Baiting

Baiting is a subtype of phishing. In this attack, the hacker manipulates innate human curiosity and greed to get their way. Typically, these emails or texts will offer a reward or free item to the victim (such as a cash prize or free membership to an online club).  

The victim is encouraged to enter sensitive details in order to access their free item. The hacker then steals these details and uses them for nefarious purposes. 

The best way to avoid these attacks is by scrutinizing emails from unknown senders. If an email seems too good to be true, then it probably is! 

3. Tailgating

Another form of social engineering that employees must be aware of occurs in the physical world. Tailgating is an attack that occurs when a criminal ‘tailgates’ an employee into an office building. 

Guests going into an office usually need to be let in by the front desk. Hackers avoid this by walking closely behind the employee, striking up a conversation and following them inside. They often pretend to be a delivery driver or guest. 

Once in the building, the attacker can then steal hardware and other items and are often hard to spot.

To defend against these attacks, ask your employees to never to let any stranger into the building without first asking who they are meeting. The employee should then ask them to wait outside or in reception while they verify the guest’s identity. 

Social Engineering Recommendations

Social engineering attacks are highly manipulative and deceptive. While some security solutions will catch and block most phishing emails, hackers are persistent. At some point, a phishing email will land in your inbox or a criminal will try to tailgate you into your building. 

You and your employees need to know how to spot phishing attacks. Below are some of the basic rules of social engineering prevention. We also recommend putting in place regular employee training so that you keep up to date with the latest social engineering threats. 

  • Be wary of emails from unknown senders that have a sense of urgency to them.
  • If you receive an odd or unexpected request from a colleague over email, pick up the phone and call them to verify that the email is real. 
  • Do not give people the benefit of the doubt over email. Trust should be earned rather than expected. 
  • Keep up with our blog to stay in the know about the latest social engineering scams so that you know what to look out for.

Do You Have Strong Social Engineering Safeguards In Place at Your Company?

Don’t leave your business unprotected from the most dangerous type of attack. Sound Computers can help your Connecticut company with a multi-layered strategy to combat phishing and other attacks.

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation. Call 860-577-8060 or reach us online.

May 3, 2022
Sound Computers Admin