What is Social Engineering?

Social engineering works by exploiting human psychology. Attackers will use social cues to influence victims into trusting them and acting against their interests. The goal of the attacker is to get the target to take actions such as giving away personal information or downloading malicious software.

Social engineering explained

Social engineering is a type of malicious attack used by cybercriminals to gain access to an organization’s sensitive data and resources. This attack usually involves manipulating individuals into providing confidential information or performing actions that can put the business at risk. Social engineers use tactics such as impersonation, phishing, pretexting, and more to take advantage of unsuspecting people. They often target vulnerable individuals within an organization, such as interns or low-level employees, who may not be aware of the security risks involved with providing data or access to a system.

Types of social engineering attacks

Social engineering attacks can take many forms, but the most common methods include:

  1. Impersonation: An attacker may pose as a legitimate employee or someone else in order to gain access to sensitive information or resources.
  2. Pretexting: Attackers use false pretenses to get victims to reveal information or access systems that they otherwise wouldn't allow them to. For example, an attacker may call posing as an IT technician in order to gain access to an employee's computer.
  3. Phishing: This is the most common type of attack and involves sending emails that contain malicious links, attachments, or requests for personal information. These emails may appear to be from a legitimate source, such as a bank or other trusted organization, and come in a variety of forms including Business Email Compromise Attacks, Spoofing, Smishing, Spear Phishing, Vishing, and Whaling.

How does social engineering work?

Social engineering works by exploiting human psychology. Attackers will use social cues, such as flattery or authority, to influence their victims into trusting them and acting against their better judgment. They will also use the power of suggestion and manipulation to get people to take actions that would otherwise be out of character. This can include anything from revealing confidential information to clicking a malicious link.

The goal of the attacker is to get the target to take an action that they otherwise wouldn't allow them to, such as giving away personal information or downloading malicious software. Social engineering attacks can be targeted at any type of user, from individuals and small businesses all the way up to large corporations.

Read more about a cyber-attack on Uber that made global media headlines in September 2022 when a threat actor infiltrated the company’s internal systems where social engineering techniques were used.

How to prevent social engineering attacks?

Organizations and individuals can protect their assets from social engineering attacks by taking a few simple steps, which include:

  • Learning to recognize the signs of an attack
  • Developing good security awareness training for employees
  • Verifying email addresses and links before clicking on them
  • Implementing a two-step authentication process to ensure only authorized individuals have access to sensitive data
  • Conducting regular security audits to help identify vulnerabilities and weaknesses that attackers could exploit

See below to learn all about IRONSCALES™ award-winning social engineering protection tools. 

Social engineering protection from IRONSCALES

IRONSCALES™ provides mailbox-level fraud and anomaly detection that conventional Secure Email Gateways (SEG) miss. Our social engineering solution: 

  • Creates a unique sender “fingerprint” for each employee. This is accomplished by analyzing “sent-from” IPs, communication context and habits, and other factors. Any deviation from the norm is detected immediately
  • Leverages Natural Language Processing to flag commonly used BEC language
  • Uses AI and machine learning to continuously study every employee’s inbox and detect suspicious email data and metadata
  • Automatically quarantines any detected anomaly in real-time, and visually flags the email subject line and body with guidance for the employee
  • Adapts to sophisticated social engineering developments using AI, machine learning, and crowdsourcing techniques
  • Provides automated phishing simulation testing and security awareness training to educate and train your employees to recognize credential harvesting attacks
Get a demo of IRONSCALES™ today!  https://ironscales.com/get-a-demo/
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