Even with a state-of-the-art, carefully maintained security system in place, there will always be a human element to cybersecurity that cannot be overlooked. Hackers will always search for the easiest path of entry, and as such, it is usually much easier to “hack the person” as opposed to breaking into a well-fortified security layer.
In fact, most cyber-attacks start off as social engineering attempts and are also the root cause behind many of the ransomware attacks that we have seen cripple businesses throughout 2021. Used by criminals and con-men long before the rise of computers and the internet, these can also be some of the most difficult attacks to prevent because they are based entirely on the manipulation of human behaviour.
As such, it is crucial to have a deep understanding of the various tactics and techniques used during social engineering attempts as it will allow users to spot potential security breaches as they occur. Here are some common social engineering tactics commonly used by cybercriminals, along with the strategies needed for prevention.
Common Social Engineering Tactics
Phishing involves an attacker sending an email, chat, web ad, or a website designed to impersonate a real system or organization to get the end-user to lower their guard and provide sensitive information. These kinds of attacks are designed to take advantage of our human sense of trust and fear – Oftentimes, these messages are crafted with a sense of urgency and will appear to come from a government agency or authority figure. Phishing tactics have become extremely popular as of late and are currently the leading tactics used by today’s ransomware hackers.
Similar to phishing, baiting involves offering something enticing to an end-user in exchange for access or private data. This “bait” can take on a variety of different forms – It can be something digital like music or a movie download, or even a physical USB drive laying around on a table. Regardless of the medium chosen, the idea is to entice the user into giving up access or data by tricking them with “bait.” Once the software is downloaded, the malware is delivered directly into the victim’s computer.
Tailgating involves an unauthorized person physically following an employee into a restricted corporate area or system. For example, a hacker might hold open a door for a real employee claiming that they’ve forgotten their RFID card. Once access is gained, the attacker can carry out a variety of different activities from inside.
How to Protect your Business
By now, we know that passwords on their own are inadequate for proper security – They are easily guessed and are often obtained through social engineering. Multifactor authentication provides an additional layer of security by requiring an additional token of verification before granting access. This could be anything from biometric access to a physical token that generates a one-time password (OTP). This makes it so that stolen credentials are not as easily usable by an attacker as they would still lack the necessary verification to gain access even with your credentials.
Security Awareness Training:
At the very heart of social engineering is the manipulation of human behaviour. With this in mind, security awareness training is, therefore, one of the most effective ways to protect yourself from social engineering attempts. Humans are naturally the first line of defense against many different kinds of security breaches, and so it is critical that they have a proper understanding of effective cybersecurity guidelines and policies.
Perform Regular Cybersecurity Risk Assessments
Cybercriminals are always looking to improve their odds of success and will, therefore, continuously update the tools and techniques they to carry out their attacks. As new, AI-enabled technologies like Deepfake to become increasingly commonplace, we can expect to see social engineering tactics evolve alongside them.
With this in mind, it is crucial that security teams that up to date with the latest threats and vulnerabilities that are currently trending, as it will allow organizations to make sure that they are applying the latest and most relevant defenses against any kind of cyber-attack.
Implement a 24/7 Monitoring Practice
Humans are ultimately limited in capacity and can only go through so many potential security incidents and vulnerabilities before it becomes too much. With this in mind, implementing 24/7 monitoring will ensure that any threats or potential incidents are detected and mitigated as quickly as possible. For this kind of intensive network monitoring, a partnership with an established cybersecurity company is highly recommended, as they can provide the specialist security staff and expertise needed to keep your network safe.