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Signs of social engineering to look out for

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  • Social engineering attacks manipulate humans to grant hackers access to sensitive data.
  • This involves invoking fear, curiosity, urgency and other human emotions in the potential victims.

Along with vulnerabilities, misconfigurations, and malware, hackers utilize human emotions to gain access to confidential data. This kind of cyber-attacks is called social engineering.

Because of the human psychology involved in this type of attack, preventing it is a huge challenge. In this article, we’ll list a few signs that you can look out for to recognize if you’re being socially engineered.

Fishy emails

If the email reads that you’ve won a trip to the Bahamas or a cash prize of $1 million, don’t click on any link in the email immediately. They are most probably links trying to steal data or download malware in your network. Such emails are called phishing emails and are crafted to lure you to click on the links.

Other examples include emails that appear to be from legitimate sources such as banks or government departments asking for your personal or confidential data.

Verify the credibility of the sender before clicking on any links or entering your credentials. There are instances of scams being exposed because of incorrect grammar or the use of wrong nicknames. Keep in mind that hackers go as far as replicating a page that looks exactly like your software provider or banking application.

Unexpected tech support calls

This is a common technique where someone, claiming to be tech support, calls and asks for information. This may include asking for credentials or remote access to the system. The attackers may infect systems with malware, or harvest data.

Do not give out any information to anyone claiming to be tech support unless you’re sure that the call is legitimate. These scams that involve tricking the victim over the phone are called vishing.

Change in banking instructions

If you receive an email from any higher official in the office asking you to transfer funds to a different bank account, always verify that the request is authentic. Talking to a senior person in the management about this is always a good thing to do. Sometimes, it could potentially save your organization a massive amount of money.

Tailgating

It’s in human nature to help, and attackers exploit this for their gains. Tailgating involves the attacker physically entering the organizations with reasons such as having lost the access card.

Most employees don’t verify if the person is authorized to enter the building before letting them in. This gives the attacker physical access to the organization’s systems and data.

The conclusion

There are technologies that help minimize social engineering attacks, but empowering yourself is a crucial defense strategy. Exercise caution before clicking any link, and clarify with colleagues or senior officials even if there is a trace of doubt regarding the credibility.

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