Unless the password is easily cracked, manipulating users sounds like an easy way to get the internet users’ credentials and data; this is what social engineering attacks are all about. Attackers, in this case, fool the user into giving in their sensitive data, like bank account information, credit card number, or passwords.
These attacks are much harder to stop because they are not associated with software or hardware vulnerabilities. Instead, it depends on the human factor, which is unpredictable and hard to detect or prevent. However, raising awareness about social engineering attacks can be helpful, and explaining how such attacks are performed and who the targeted victims are to perform these attacks can save you a lot of headaches.
Even though many people are strictly aware and conscious of similar attacks, the different ways of tricking internet users are becoming more sophisticated and malicious every day. Attackers come up with new ways to put hands on sensitive data in a way that some people might not be aware of, like malicious websites, misleading links, and emails.
Security mainly relies on who you’re dealing with and what parties you trust on the internet, not all websites, for example, are secure and reliable, so you could surf the web and visit insecure websites without being attacked or victimized, but the risk hugely increases when you visit insecure websites for online shopping or online transactions.
In other words, your sensitive data, like a bank account or credit card number, are transferred through an insecure tunnel, no encryption, no security procedures, and unknown third party, which could possibly be an attacker who has designed the whole website to trick people into giving in their information.
Different Social Engineering Attacks Scenarios
Social engineering attacks are much more malicious than other designed threats; knowing the different scenarios and forms in which these attacks might occur can save you a lot of trouble:
- Emails: If an attacker can hack a user’s email password, this will lead to the user’s contact list, and because many people use the same password for multiple platforms, the password could be used to access other social media accounts.
Tip: Consequently, if you suspect a link or a file, including images, documents, or music, don’t let your curiosity lead the way, and check that you’re not inviting malicious files with embedded threats to your device by clicking on whatsoever pops up to you.
- Deceiving: Have you ever been urged to donate to a charity? We’re not saying that all of these attempts are deceiving, but you can’t trust anyone who tells you that someone needs your help.
Tip: Once again, you should know who you’re dealing with, check the information, and ask for documents if necessary before trusting anyone. Other similar ways to trick users are asking for your help, telling you that you’re a winner, or presenting a problem that requires personal information to get it solved.
- Offering assistance: Attackers disguise themselves in a well-known enterprise name, like a bank, company, or organization, and send you emails or messages that they are trying to assist you in your query.
Tip: Well, if you have never used the service or contacted that institution, don’t reply because it is most probably a phishing attempt.
- Social accounts: Including a LinkedIn account with everything about employment history and contact information might be one of the easiest ways to know more about the victim before planning for an attack.
Tip: Make sure that your accounts are secure and private. Also, check who you’re accepting to friend with on social media platforms and other social accounts.
These are the most common scenarios of social engineering attacks, besides of course, many other forms that you can avoid by being fully aware of the different social engineering attacks and how dangerous they could get when an attacker finds the perfect victim.
Social Engineering Cases from Real Life
We listed out some of the most famous social engineering attacks cases, which were about to cost their victims a lot of money and trouble.
- Shark Tank: In 2020, Barbara Corcoran, one of the show’s original investors, was about to get tricked in about 400.000 dollars when her bookkeeper received an email asking for a payment renewal. The attacker used an email address similar to her assistant’s, and the disaster was about to happen just before the bookkeeper sent an email to the right email address asking about the transaction information.
- Sony Pictures: In 2014, attackers could collect customers’ information, financial documents, and business agreements by sending faked emails to the customers asking for their information and documents pretending to be sent by Apple.
How to Stop Social Engineering Attacks
As we stated earlier, the attacker finds out his way to the victim’s data by gaining his trust; that’s why it is important to pay attention to what is going on through your email, social media accounts, and other platforms you use. Make sure to use the antivirus software on your device. According to Several.com Antiviruses reviews; they should remind you of the possible threats and keep you alarmed whenever there is a data breach attempt or malicious data trying to affect your device.