Social engineering relies on unwitting individuals giving access or information to people seeking to exploit a company or organization’s information. The phenomenon isn’t new and is actually one of the oldest forms of deception, which is why experts refer to the most popular modern version of this practice as a trojan backdoor.
The idea is simple, present yourself as an authorized person or entity, and manufacture a situation that will ultimately lead to gaining entry into a network, system, or facility. Social engineering leverages the relationship between human behavior and an organization’s digital technology for the purposes of committing fraud. Here is everything you need to know about social engineering and why it matters to you.
Digital Social Engineering
By utilizing digital communication channels, cyber attackers will engage with employees or staff urging them to do something they normally wouldn’t, and so grant credentials to the bad actors.
Usually, a spear-phishing attempt will come in the form of an email but may also use social media or clickable links on a webpage that directs users to install software or provide private credentials. A specific example of this is if you receive an email from your bank asking you to update your details immediately. The link provided will redirect to a mock page designed to look exactly like the bank’s site but will capture your details and the hackers can now access your accounts.
Similar to spear phishing, direct phishing will target a specific individual with elevated credentials within an organization. It may be a System Administrator or the head of a specific Business Unit. The attackers will craft the communication to seem as authentic as possible, tricking the recipient to install something like a key-logger, which will ultimately expose the individual’s credentials.
In-Person Social Engineering
Modern social engineering tactics don’t only rely on digital phishing, they may also include real-world interactions between the attacker and an employee of the organization.
A face-to-face exploit occurs when the attacker impersonates a third party to gain physical access to your company’s facility. It may be someone showing up and claiming they received an automated message from one of the company’s devices. Once the employee grants them access to a networked piece of equipment, a USB drive will install the malicious software on the device and compromise the system.
Long-Term Social Engineering
Although less common, attackers may form long-term relationships with employees outside of the work environment. Eventually, the attacker will either clone an access card or find time to be alone with an unsecured laptop, allowing the person to exploit the system with valid credentials.
Phone Social Engineering
Similar to face-to-face scenarios, using a telephone call to the right employee can also expose a company to cyberattacks.
By having some legitimate information about the person or company, actors will call the individual and request additional, private information. It could be as simple as contacting an employee and asking for the serial number of a Wi-Fi router, which will assist the attacker to exploit the network.
Smishing is similar to vishing, although instead of a phone call, a text or SMS requests the user to perform some unsafe action. Mobile phones within the company connect to the Wifi networks, and any malicious software is transferable from the mobile device to the company’s network.
Get Detailed Advice on Social Engineering Threats from IntegriTech
Social Engineering exploits keep gaining in popularity from hackers, as the software required is freely available on the internet. For your company to remain safe and protected, employee education and adequate security policies will alleviate most of the risks.
For more details on these kinds of attacks and information on how to prevent them, contact IntegriTech’s experts today to help you prepare for the next socially engineered exploit attempt.