social engineering attacksCybersecurity challenges are many, and so are the gateways that lead to the cybersecurity breach over distinct kinds of information systems networks.

While the technological and functional vulnerabilities cannot be ignored in the system, there is a need for businesses to focus on the issue of social engineering attacks which is a major challenge facing information systems security. 

Social engineering attacks are about practices wherein it involves tricking someone into divulgence of critical information resourceful for breach or access into the information systems and networks. 

In social engineering, the intruders pose as the helpdesk staff or the other internal system admins, or the support staff from the SaaS applications, seeking information like user credentials.

In general, users feel such requests as legitimate and offer the details which can lead to significant levels of an information security breach. 

Simply put, the scope of social engineering is about deception and manipulation of the individuals towards enabling access or offering detailing of sensitive information that can lead to more cybersecurity or social engineering attacks. 

In general, among the distinct set of a cybersecurity breach that is reported, the investigations refer to social engineering attacks as the intrinsic source triggering the security breach. 

The basic modus of social engineering is the same across the process, but there are distinct patterns adapted in handling social engineering depending on the kind of information security breach targets. 

Some of the popular social engineering attack practices followed by intruders aiming at social engineering are:

  • Baiting kind of social engineering
  • Pretexting
  • Phishing as social engineering attacks
  • Vishing and Smishing
  • Quid pro quo kind of social engineering
  • Contact spamming and email hacking as social engineering attacks
  • Hunting and Farming

Related: What is Smishing & How to Defend Against it

How to Protect Against Social Engineering Attacks?

The pretexts and practices for the social engineering attacks could vary from one mode of social engineering to the other, the objective remains the same in terms of breaching the information.

While the above set of points are the types of social engineering practices followed for a security breach, there is a need for the end users, and the businesses to follow some best practices to prevent any kind of social engineering attacks

Social engineering security practices discussed below can be resourceful for all sets of users in ensuring that information systems security is practiced effectively.

Some of the key things to understand about social engineering are that it is designed to counter any kind of attacks taking place, as they are expressively designed to impact the natural human characteristics like curiosity, compliance, desire to support people in need, etc.

However, users exercising little caution on the routine and such calls or messages can avoid being in traps of social engineering.

Some of the best practices to avoid social engineering attacks are:

1. Check the Source

Pausing before responding to any sensitive information in any of the emails or phone calls or messages, can do a lot of good to prevent social engineering attacks.

For instance, if some phone call executive seeks credit card information or other private information, it should trigger bells to recheck and double check the source, email address, and any alternate means of verifying the authenticity of the call or message, or person.

By doing this kind of cross-checking patterns, to some extent, the issue of social engineering attacks can be prevented.

In the instances of any doubt, avoid providing the information at the same instance, verify, before offering any kind of details.

However, one should avoid offering the user credentials like the user-id and password at a given cost, and one needs to be very significant and rigid with the practices.

2. Breaking the Loop

In general, social engineering attacks are targeted at users with a kind of sense of urgency. Attackers consider the prospects of how their targets might not think too hard about the occurrences.

Thus, it is essential that irrespective of the source of communication or touchpoints, one must refrain from acting towards the process.

In an illustrative scenario, one popular mode is how fake social media communication is shared seeking urgent remittance of money into an account.

In general, users with good trust transfer or remit such funds to the mentioned accounts, to realize later the social engineering attacks.

3. Verification of Identity 

When an organization or a business or service offering personnel is calling up, there are all possibilities of it being a social engineering attack, and it is a tactical approach from the users to avoid giving all the details directly and shall ensure due diligence or verification of identity.

Just by seeking some intrinsic questions regarding identity verification, the scope of avoiding social engineering is highly possible.

4. Identify any sense of urgency in communication 

The other best practice in preventing social engineering is to detect any kind of urgency in communication from the other end.

In a possible attempt, there could be a call from unknown numbers faking the identity of your friend or family member, or colleague and seeking some critical information or asking for financial transfers, the recommended action in the process is to observe for any sense of urgency.

In simple terms, when in doubt avoid action, and this could terminate many social engineering attacks.

5. Securing the Devices

Phishing attacks and other such dynamics work significantly for social engineering.

phishing attack

However, it is also important for the end users and businesses to secure the information systems to prevent any basic information in exposing to the customers.

Also, regular updates of the information systems and user credentials like the passwords being frequently changed can help in mitigating the risks of social engineering attacks and help in improving the overall process outcome.

Countering any kind of social engineering is not a mere effort of technological solution or a kind of cybersecurity practice integral to the process.

It is the combination of best practices at the user end combined with some sophisticated solutions that can help in preventing any kind of social engineering attacks taking place over the systems.

For more information on cybersecurity systems and practices, and insights into social engineering attacks, reach out to the customer support team at Exabytes Singapore.

Security Solutions

Related articles:

Ransomware: Best Practices Against the Rise of Attack

How to Know If Your Data Has Been Breached?

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