Social engineering is a devastating tactical weapon in the arsenal of hackers and other cybercriminals. While firms and private individuals often prioritize passwords, digital encryption, and other protections on the internet and through computerized activity, the social engineers are the modern rogues that you need to be cautious of above all else.
What makes a social engineering attack so complex and hard to defeat is the seemingly innocuous nature of the approach. Unfortunately the weakest element in a corporate security system is often the people themselves, and this exactly the space that social engineering and other, similar phishing attacks target.
What is social engineering?
Social engineers and phishing experts are well-versed in the psychological features of the human mind. Phishing scams are perhaps the most common form of social engineering. These individuals rely on manipulation and uncertainty as to their primary weapons. This may seem like a tangential threat to the cyber landscape that corporate security must defend against, however social engineers are simply acting within one facet of the varied digital crime network.
Social engineering attacks and phishing thrusts often begin with emails or phone calls that appear legitimate upon first glance. Impersonators make contact claiming to be a distant supervisor, IT manager, or someone from the security team – perhaps based in another local office or working from home during this time battling the coronavirus pandemic. These fabricated identities are purpose-built to confuse.
Your staff in Toledo, Newark, or Atlanta is likely familiar in vague terms with other branch offices. They are conditioned to recognize these contacts as legitimate due to the sweeping nature of business and largely trusting demeanor of humans. An email address that looks familiar won’t earn a second glance from many unsuspecting victims, who unwittingly give up passwords, confidential data, or proprietary procedural information that’s need-to-know. Any or all of this sensitive information can be used to further bolster the appearance of legitimacy to the impersonation as the phishing scam delves deeper into your organization.
How can you defeat this tour de force in the world of cybercrime?
Firms and other potential victims must implement a two-pronged defense against these types of incursions. The first layer of defense lies in open communication. Social engineering tactics are relentless, but they can be easily defeated by an office culture of vocal verification and open communication. Training your staff to question emails or contact that requests sensitive data is the best way to de-fang these scammers.
Vocal verification is a powerful tool for those looking to defend their company against fraudsters (who collectively stole almost one trillion US Dollars from businesses in 2020 alone). Instructing your staff to physically check in with the IT department upon receipt of an email from “Dave in IT” to confirm the request can eliminate the threat before it takes root.
The second layer of defense resides in your security infrastructure itself. While humans are the easiest targets to press for information, your digital systems must also maintain their integrity under fire. A security firm with years of experience in the digital trenches, like Securd Security Solutions, is a fantastic hire to bolster your defense against malware and other cyberattacks. Without this second layer of protection, any single breakdown in your staff training can lead to disastrous results.
Digital security services often begin with their own pen test of your systems. They can then diagnose any weaknesses in your company’s firewall and password routines. The technicians at Securd and others who work in the space are professional hackers themselves; this means that you can rest assured that your digital security is top-notch after a visit from the good guys.
Social engineering is a vicious form of cybercrime. These scammers approach without warning and are often incredibly difficult to stop. Ensure your security is prepared for the hybrid threat that social engineers pose to your business and financial future.