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Social Engineering: The New Cyber Threat to Be Aware of

Updated: Jan 4, 2023

Social engineering is the process of manipulating people into performing actions or disclosing confidential information. It has been around for hundreds of years, but with the advent of technology, it has become a much more prevalent threat.

The key to social engineering is not being paranoid and remaining vigilant at all times. The following are some things you should know about social engineering and how to protect yourself against it:

What is social engineering?

Social engineering is the process of manipulating people into performing actions or disclosing confidential information. It’s a technique for gaining illegal access to data or computer systems and a non-technical hacking method that largely depends on human interaction and exploiting people’s emotions and assumptions.

Social engineering uses psychological tricks to get people to reveal passwords, give up access permissions, or otherwise provide unauthorised access. Additionally, it can deceive users into altering their default security settings or installing malicious software on their computers. This includes, but is not limited to, emailing employees with requests for their login credentials, deceiving users into downloading malware or coercing them into disclosing private information about their employers or clients.

A social engineering attack utilises the weakest link in your security chain – the human workforce – to gain access to a company’s network and cloud resources. It has become increasingly common for attackers to use sophisticated tricks and manipulation to induce employees, including senior executives, to divulge sensitive information. Get an overview of the latest social engineering threats and best practices for defending against them.

How does social engineering work?

Social engineering can occur either outside or within an organisation. In order to achieve their objective, hackers attempt to trick users into providing them with sensitive information or persuade them to perform an action that is beneficial to them. The hackers can use the information or control they obtain to harm the company or its clients or sell it to other hackers.

Social engineering techniques are used by human hackers to trick people into divulging their passwords. Employees may be sent an email requesting login credentials for a server or service they do not own, or they may be called by a person posing as a member of IT and asked for their password. Also, social engineering can be used to impersonate an authority figure in order to obtain sensitive information from employees, such as salary information, client names, and company financial information.

Types of social engineering

There are two main types of social engineering:

· Smishing (SMS phishing) and vishing (voice phishing)

Fraudulent websites and emails aren’t the only types of phishing. When phishing, scammers send out text messages with malicious links while disguising their attempts with spoofed phone numbers.

Another form of fraud is vishing, a telephone scam similar to phishing. Phishing attacks target a high percentage of businesses. The scammers claim that they need personal information about employees from the front desk, customer service, HR, or IT department. Lies include mortgage lenders attempting to “verify” emails and executive assistants requesting password changes on behalf of their boss. These types of phishing can result in identity theft, malware infection, and financial ruin.

· Baiting

Baiting is a type of social engineering whereby fraudsters deceive users into divulging personal information or downloading malware.

Baiting scams can appear as enticing internet adverts or promotions offering free movie or game downloads, online streaming, or phone upgrades. In order to gain access to the victim’s data or sell it to other criminals, the attacker is hoping that the password the target used to claim the offer is one they have previously used on other websites.

How to protect your business from social engineering attacks

In most cases, social engineering attacks target your business or employer in order to steal sensitive information and data. What steps can you take to prevent social engineering attacks on your team and company?

· Ensure that security awareness training continues

Campaigns used in continuous training contain simulations of actual events, threats, and topics. Keep your cybersecurity training continuously updated.

· Set up privileged access and 2FA

Two-factor authentication, or 2FA, requires the use of another factor in addition to a username and password in order to gain access. There are many ways that this can be accomplished, such as mobile text codes or even biometrics.

· Email security system

Fraudsters often use email as a tool to operate their scams; they deploy an advanced email security system that automatically triages and responds to employee-reported emails

· Social media policy

Be sure that your corporate security policy provides a clear approach to employees posting on social media to prevent social engineering attacks. Oversharing is a real issue and an enabler for social engineering.


A social engineering attack typically involves psychological manipulation to fool unsuspecting users or employees into handing over sensitive or confidential information. As a result of social engineering, victims are often compelled to reveal sensitive information, click on malicious links, or open malicious files through emails or other communications that inspire urgency, fear, or similar emotions. Social engineering involves a human element, so enterprises may have difficulty preventing these attacks.

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