Human Hacking: All About Social Engineering Attacks

Although the word “social engineering” might not sound very hazardous, this sort of attack is wrecking chaos in all the exploits it comes across. The basic difference between this cyber threat and others is that the execution is based on humans rather than an unpatched system vulnerability. 

But what exactly is a Social Engineering attack, and how can we avoid becoming a target? 

What is Human Hacking/Social Engineering attack? What are its impacts? 

Social Engineering is a technique that exploits humans using psychological manipulation and getting access to privileged information. It is also known as “Human Hacking.” They manipulate the users by showing a sense of urgency and fear of similar emotions leading the victim to leak the information to the attacker via call, email, or clicking on a link.  

First, the attacker gathers information on the victim using passive information gathering, dumpster diving, shoulder surfing, or others. Then, the attacker impersonates to gain confidence and gives urgent instructions for the subsequent steps. Then, the attacker exploits the victim by sabotaging or stealing some information or money. And after this, the last step is removing the traces and disengaging from the victim. The traces are hard to find as they use different tools and try to avoid logs as much as possible.  

In this attack, the victim is not a machine, but a human and is the weakest link due to emotions, lack of knowledge of personal data, and pressure. Read on to find out the types of these attacks and how you can prevent them from happening.  

What are the various Social Engineering attacks? 

Social Engineering is a broad term and has many different attacks within it, as mentioned: 

1. Phishing

It attempts to access privileged information such as passwords, card details, PINs, and Personal Identification details like Driving Licence, Social Security Numbers, Passport Details, and others. It mainly involves the user clicking on links to malicious websites, replicas of original websites, or opening any attachments containing malware.  

2. Baiting  

It involves the attacker making a false promise to the victim to lure them into a trap. It can involve the attacker in sharing the user’s details for a “Free” offer. 

3. Vishing

Vishing attacks involve the attacker connecting with the victim on a voice call and showing a sense of urgency to share details on a call.  

4. Smishing

It is the same as vishing, but the method or the targeted attack medium is SMS instead of a voice call. An attacker can send you an SMS with some suspicious offer or a link that shows the urgency to share your details to access your private information.

How can you detect Social Engineering attacks?

Detection of Social Engineering Attacks is also essential, so you should always be attentive to what information you share with anyone. Here are a few quick tips that you can follow to detect such human attacks. 

  • Whenever you are giving any information, make sure that the sender is legitimate and check the email address/phone of the concerned. 
  •  If a friend asks for the information, then always try to give them a call to confirm the need. 
  • If you are visiting a website, check the URL and spelling errors. You can even check how the website reacts if you give false credentials. 
  • If there is an offer, then always consider whether it is too good to be true, whether the links are suspicious, if the message has a sense of urgency, and so.  

Suggested Reading: 4 Tips How To Stay Safe Against Ransomware

How can you avoid Social Engineering attacks?

Social engineering is quite common now, and knowledge of such attacks must be shared with every citizen. There are many habits that one can follow, such as: 

  • Everyone must receive proper education as awareness is the first step to prevention.  
  • Always use multi-factor authentication.  
  • Always use strong passwords. 
  • Keep changing the passwords periodically.  
  • Don’t maintain an online-only friendship.  
  • Don’t share your Wi-Fi credentials with everyone.  
  • Use a proper antivirus as they use machine learning to detect social engineering attacks.  
  • Verify details of an employee from the company before sharing any information. 
  • Check for data breaches of your accounts periodically so that you can change the credentials of that account or the one with similar passwords. 

It’s time to fight the Human Hacks

Because social engineering is more than any other threat, it is tough to tackle. Use these strategies to help defend yourself and your organization against this human hack. If you want to go deeper into your industry’s security posture, ACE offers various free consultations to give you a detailed overview of your IT system’s weaknesses.   

It’s time for us to face the seriousness of this cyberthreat and take proactive measures to combat it. It’s time for us to understand the severity of this cyberthreat and take proactive steps to combat it.