Social engineering: what does it look like?

Social Engineering is a term we hear constantly in the news relating to cyber-attacks, but what exactly does it mean?

Social Engineering is the art of manipulating people into performing certain actions or divulging confidential information. Rather than use traditional hacking attacks, cybercriminals take advantage of our trusting human nature to trick us into breaking normal security practices. These types of attacks have grown in frequency and sophistication, and are proving to be a very successful way for scammers to gain unauthorised access to computer networks and sensitive data.

Social Engineering attacks come in many different forms but the common thread running through them all is their exploitation of human behaviour. The following examples are the most common forms of attack used.

Phishing, smishing, vishing

Capturing curiosity
Scammers will reach you using emails, SMS, and phone calls: for example, they might do this pretending to be your bank. If it’s legitimate, a company will let you contact them using official company channels.Curiosity is a big part of our human nature – it’s how we evolve. But it’s also a weakness for scammers to exploit. Found an abandoned USB stick? Never put it into your computer, it’s an easy way for hackers to break in.

Quid pro quo

Quite often, scammers will offer you something like technical assistance, access to a protected document, or a solution for a problem. They may not ask for money! Their goal is your login details, which they can then use or sell.This is when a hacker gathers info on you in order to gain your trust. One way is impersonating someone from your workplace and requesting changes to payments. This one commonly targets finance teams and is often successful.

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