This month, we’ve been discussing how hackers use Social Engineering to steal personal data. We’re attacked in various ways by these threats, day and night, 24/7. The hackers are busy because they’re playing the odds: the more socially engineered threats they send out, the better the chance they’ll have of someone clicking on one of them. 


Most of us are familiar with the terms phishing and malware. These scams are just a subset of a system known as social engineering. This cyber threat is not new. It has been used for years to trick a wide variety of people into disclosing critical information about themselves or their employer. The Trojan horse attack is an example of social engineering dating back to Greek mythology. They won the battle by infiltrating Troy with a “peace offering” of warriors who rushed out of the wooden horse. Flash forward to modern times, and social engineering has entered a new era, with technology at the forefront of our lives. Physical human interaction is no longer essential. These fraudsters obtain information through various methods, including emails, pop-ups, and public Wi-Fi networks. The primary goal is to persuade, manipulate, or fool users into disclosing confidential information or access data within an organization. If you are not vigilant, you may become a victim as well. 


Consequences associated with the loss of personal data are irritating and a nuisance. However, if hackers use your data for false identification, the consequences for you could be severe. After a breach, you may find yourself in thousands of dollars of debt. Or, quite possibly, your bank account drained. As such, fake link prevention is imperative for protecting yourself from personal data losses. 

Phishing is undoubtedly one of the most often used social engineering techniques. Typically generic, this danger arrives via email. In a typical Phishing email, they’ll usually request access to a password or login to investigate a policy infringement. The email will direct you to a website nearly identical to the one you are used to opening. You’ll access the website, enter the required data, and give up a lot of secrets. Following that, any data you’ve entered gets captured by the hacker. You’ve just fallen for the world’s oldest online scam. 


Worldwide, about 20% of all data breaches involve Phishing attacks. And many times, these attacks lead to identity theft, which can cause horrific complications. Phishing attacks on businesses grow at a rate of 15% a year, on average. And even when Managers train their employees in cybersecurity, a surprisingly high number of people still click on the embedded malicious links.  


One huge reason why so many employees click on these bogus links is because of a social engineering device called “brand impersonation.” You’ve probably seen emails end up in your spam folder from big companies like CVS, Sam’s Club, Walmart, and Amazon. These emails are brand impersonation at their best. But if you follow the identification procedures and check the “to and from” email addresses, you should be able to tell if they are real or not. 


Another Social Engineering scam is called Baiting. Baiting happens in person or online. Physical baiting occurs when a hacker leaves a thumb drive at a business, which is subsequently picked up and plugged into a computer by an employee. It could be out of curiosity or a mistaken belief that a coworker left something behind. However, as soon as the thumb drive is mounted, malware is downloaded to your computer. 


Fake social media baiting could take the form of an attractive pop-up message, such as “Congratulations, you’ve won a $50 Gift Card!” Alternatively, you may encounter scareware, which misleads users into believing their machine is infected with malware. You may see pop-up messages such as “Your computer has been infected; click here to begin virus protection.” You’ll unknowingly download malware to your computer by clicking on it. Generally, if you know what you’re looking for, you can avoid these scenarios. 


By educating ourselves and our staff, we can mitigate the threat of social engineering. With so many various ways to steal your sensitive data, individuals and businesses alike must undergo training on these topics. Training and developing certain behaviors can help. To begin, be aware of your surroundings. Bear in mind that social engineering still exists, and you do not want to be the source of data theft. Following that, do not open emails or attachments from unknown senders. If an email that appears valid is slightly suspect, contact the email’s sender to verify that it is from them. Additionally, utilizing multi-factor authentication significantly reduces fraud. 


Additionally, if an offer appears to be too good to be true, it most likely is. Avoid clicking the link. You were not the winner of a cruise. You are not getting an extra stimulus check. Finally, ensure that your antivirus and antimalware applications are up to date. This practice is your best line of protection. Generally, exercise sound judgment and common sense. 


By utilizing multi-factor authentication, you can help safeguard your account in the case of a system intrusion. Social engineers have excelled at their professions, but that’s okay because we’ve excelled at ours. We will fight these cunning hackers, so if you need some help, give us a call.