In today’s digital age, our personal and business information is vulnerable to cybercriminals who seek to infiltrate and steal our valuable data.
Taking necessary proactive precautions can, and will, help to reduce the likelihood of a cyber breach.
In the first of our series of demystifying common types of cyber attacks, we look at the most common method of attack – social engineering.
Demystified – Social engineering
Protecting your digital fortress
For centuries, fortresses have been constructed to protect people and treasures from adversaries. Fortresses were built with defence in mind, designed with moats, gates, and guards, along with an equipped and alert community to ensure maximum deterrent and defence from would-be attackers.
In the digital age, your fortress is your company, your valuable treasures are your sensitive data, and your guards are your security measures, such as firewalls, anti-virus software, and intrusion detection systems. The attackers are cybercriminals who seek to infiltrate your system and steal or damage your data.
In the digital world, we need to consider a company’s defence by design in a similar way, using multiple layers of detection, deterrent and defence to maximise security.
A poisonous letter
Social engineering, now amplified by AI and automation, is a prevalent form of cyber attack that can be likened to an unexpected messenger carrying a poisonous letter. In this type of attack, a hacker employs deceptive tactics to manipulate a person into revealing sensitive information, granting access to a system, or opening a harmful file.
The victim is often unaware that they have fallen prey to a carefully orchestrated attack, as the hacker presents themselves as genuine and trustworthy. These attackers typically use methods such as phishing emails, phone calls, or impersonation techniques to trick their targets into divulging sensitive information.
How to spot a social engineering attack
So, how can you protect yourself from social engineering attacks? Here are some top tips to identify a phishing attack.
Check the sender’s email address: Phishing emails often use a fake or spoofed email address that may look similar to a legitimate address. Make sure it matches the legitimate organisation’s address and look out for slight variations in spelling or structure.
Look for urgent language: Phishing emails often use urgent or threatening language to create a sense of urgency and prompt you to take immediate action. This might be “Payment overdue” or “Legal action if not resolved immediately.”
Beware of generic greetings: Phishing emails may use generic greetings such as “Dear customer” or “Dear account holder” rather than your name. If you have an account with the sender, they should always address you by your account name.
Do not click on links or download attachments: Phishing emails often contain links to fake websites or malware-infected attachments. Avoid clicking on links or downloading attachments in suspicious emails until you have confirmed they are genuine. If you are unsure, call the sender to verify first.
Check for spelling and grammar errors: Phishing emails often contain spelling and grammar errors, as attackers often use automated tools to create and send large volumes of phishing emails
Verify the information: If an email requests personal or sensitive information, such as your login credentials or credit card number, always contact the sender before providing sensitive information.
Do not be afraid to trust your instincts. 3.4 billion phishing emails are sent every day. Always think and validate before handing over sensitive information.
Get equipped and get involved
The Arx platform contains a suite of tools to add to your defence such as employee awareness training, guides and resources and automated scanning.
If you enjoyed today’s article, please give us a like, share or add your own comments and suggestions on combatting social engineering attacks.