A scenario that's all too common within the post-pandemic workforce:
Bill's personal computer is infected with a malware. Unsuspecting of this, he emails a corrupted document to a coworker. Alice receives Bill's email and sees important information in it that other employees within her department could benefit from knowing, so she forwards the email on to her entire department. The infected email continues to spread throughout the company's network and before you know it, the company has suffered a security breach and client information has now been compromised. Now upper management has to craft a statement to notify its customers that there has been a security breach and that their sensitive information was affected and figure out a way to restore their lost or stolen data and secure it.
With the increase of remote work and hybrid work environments, cybercriminals are taking advantage of the fact that there are more unsecured opportunities to gain access to sensitive information. By knowing what to look for, you can protect yourself and your company from these nefarious activities. In this blog post, we will discuss some of the most common social engineering tactics used by cybercriminals, and we will provide tips on how to protect yourself against them.
What is social engineering, and why should you be concerned about it
Social engineering is a term that is used to describe a variety of methods that cybercriminals use to gain access to sensitive information. They often use tactics that exploit human vulnerabilities, such as phishing attacks or baiting. Phishing attacks are emails or messages that are designed to look like they are from a legitimate source, such as a bank or an online retailer. Baiting is when the cybercriminal provides something tempting, such as a free download or an attractive offer to lure the victim into clicking on a malicious link or opening an infected file.
Social engineering can be very effective because people are often more likely to trust someone that they know or someone who seems legitimate. This makes it easy for the cybercriminal to convince the victim to take some kind of action, such as providing their login credentials or clicking on a link. Once the cybercriminal has access to this information, they can steal your data or install malware on your computer.
That's why businesses need to be aware of the different social engineering tactics that are being used today and take steps to protect their employees from becoming victims. Some of the best ways to do this include training your employees on how to identify phishing emails and other scams, setting strong passwords and using two-factor authentication, installing antivirus software on all of your company devices, and ensuring cloud data is secured with parameters in place to prevent cyberattacks.
What are the most common social engineering tactics used by cybercriminals?
There are a variety of social engineering tactics that cybercriminals use to try and gain access to sensitive information. Some of the most common ones include:
Phishing: This is one of the most common tactics, and involves sending fraudulent emails purporting to be from legitimate organizations such as banks or credit card companies. The emails usually ask for personal information such as passwords or account numbers.
Whaling: This tactic is similar to phishing, but is aimed at business executives instead of consumers. Cybercriminals send emails that appear to be from senior executives in the company and request sensitive information or money.
Vishing: This is a variant of phishing that uses voice messages instead of emails. The messages are usually designed to trick people into revealing personal information such as passwords or credit card numbers.
Smishing: This tactic uses text messages instead of voice messages, and is very similar to vishing. Fraudulent text messages are often used to lure people into giving away sensitive information or downloading malware.
Pretexting: This involves creating a false story or scenario to get someone to reveal sensitive information. For example, a cybercriminal may pose as a customer service representative and ask for your password to “verify your account.”
How to protect yourself against these tactics
The best way to protect your business against social engineering attacks is to be aware of the methods that cybercriminals use, and to be vigilant in watching for any signs of suspicious activity. You can also take steps to secure your devices and your networks, and create strong passwords that are difficult to crack.
You should also be sure to keep your software up-to-date and install security patches as soon as they become available. Finally, it's important to stay informed about the latest security threats, so that you can take the necessary precautions to protect yourself and your company.
Relying on just a single layer of protection will leave you vulnerable to a cyberattack. Multi-tiered protection that combines email security, endpoint protection, security awareness training, and DNS security will help stop social engineering in its tracks.
Additional tips for protecting yourself and your company from social engineering attacks
One of the best ways to protect your business from a social engineering attack is to partner with a mature managed service provider (MSP) who can provide you with multi-tiered protection. MSPs have the expertise and resources to help you secure your systems and networks, and they can also provide you with 24/7 monitoring and support.
With an MSP, you can rest assured that your systems are safe and secure and that you're taking all the necessary steps to protect yourself from cybercriminals. For more information on how MSPs can help you protect your business, join us for a free webinar on how to protect your small to medium-sized business from social engineering cyberattacks. Our researchers break down common attack vectors where we’re most vulnerable and find out why social engineering is so successful. Finally, we will explore why all SMBs should consider adopting a multi-tiered cybersecurity strategy.
Cybercriminals are always looking for new ways to exploit unsuspecting employees, and one of their favorite methods is social engineering. By knowing what to look for, you can protect your employees and your company from these threats. The best way to stay safe is to be aware of methods that cybercriminals use, keep your software up-to-date, install security patches, and stay informed about the latest security threats. You should also consider partnering with a mature managed service provider who can help you secure your systems and networks.