What is Social Engineering Attack and 4 steps to Prevent it.

What is Social Engineering Attack and 4 steps to Prevent it.
What is Social Engineering Attack and 4 steps to Prevent it.
Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

What is Social Engineering Attacks?

Social Engineering Attack is a process of manipulating people to force them to give their personal or confidential information and such information can be monetized or can be used to blackmail them or in any other criminal activities.


Social engineering attack can be a mail from your friend or a call from a Bank, etc.

in simple words, social engineering is a tricky technique that manipulates an individual to allow or divulge access to information and data.

Types of Social Engineering Attacks

Have you ever received an email to claim the prize of winning lottery that you never purchased or a call from a bank employee asking your credit card details for verification purpose or an email from an unknown person who claims to be your friend and want you to transfer some money urgently to given bank account or have you ever found a PenDrive and you want to know what is inside ? These all can be possible Social Engineering attacks that might be targeting you.

There are different types of social engineering attacks. So, it’s important to understand the definition of social engineering and how it works. Understanding the basic tricks will help you find social engineering attacks.

1. Fishing bait

Fishing baits set traps such as USB memory containing malware. If someone plugs the memory into a USB drive to find out what’s inside, it could break into the system and send all your personal data to someone over internet. In fact, USB sticks can also destroy your computer . After charging with the power from the USB drive, it discharges and causes a severe power surge, damaging the equipment that was supplying that power. Such an attack can be carried out using an inexpensive USB memory.

2. Pretexting

This attack tells a plausible story, attracts and deceives the target person, and obtains information. For example, an internet survey might initially look completely non-malicious and then ask for more information about your bank account. Or you might say that someone with a clipboard is coming in and auditing your internal system. However, their titles are fake, and they may actually be trying to steal valuable information.

3. Phishing        

Phishing attacks that send emails or text messages to request personal information by pretending to come from a trusted source are also a form of social engineering. A well-known type is to ask a customer to “verify” security information, pretending to be an email from a bank, and then direct them to a fake site to steal login credentials. “Spear phishing” targets one person in a company and sends an email disguised as a senior executive in the company, requesting sensitive information.

4. Voice phishing and smishing

This is a type of social engineering attacks, phishing. It is also known as Vishing, is a kind of “voice phishing“. That is, make a phone call and request data. For example, pretending to be an IT help desk and requesting login information. Phishing attack that uses SMS messages instead of telephones to obtain such information is known as Smishing.

5. Scareware

It is said that “fair exchange is not robbery”, but in this case it is robbery. Social engineering attacks trick victims into believing that they need to provide data and access to solve problems. This is exactly how a malicious program called “scareware” works. It tricks users into saying that they need to update their systems to address urgent security issues, but in reality, scareware itself is a security threat, such as money or personal information being stolen or compromised. Damage will occur.

6. Sending spam emails to contacts and hacking emails

This type of attack begins by hacking an email or social media account to gain unauthorized access to a victim’s contacts. I tricked my friends and acquaintances listed in my contacts into contacting the victim and sent me a fake message that they were stolen and all my credit cards were stolen and that I could send money to this bank account. Send it. They may also send you “must-see videos” that talk about “friends” and link to malware and Trojan horses with key loggers.

7. Pharming and hunting

Finally, I would like to introduce a social engineering attack that is far more advanced than the ones described so far. Most of the simple techniques I’ve described so far are of the “hunting” type. The point is to break in, get information, and go out.

However, some social engineering attacks are of the type that build relationships with targets and extract more information over time. This is called “farming” and is a risky attack for an attacker because it is more likely to be found. However, a successful intrusion will give you much more information.

How to Prevent Social Engineering Attacks

Here are some tips to help you spot social engineering attacks.

1. Check the source

It’s not difficult to identify the source. For emails, for example, check the email headers and match them with real emails from the same sender. Let’s find out the link. Spoofed hyperlinks can be easily found by hovering over them (don’t click the link!). Banks have a team of talented people who specialize in interacting with customers, so emails with simple typographical errors are probably fake. If in doubt, visit the official website and contact the official person in charge. Then you can check whether the email or message is official or fake.

2. Check what information is provided

Does the source have any information you know and deserve, such as your full name? If you receive a call from a bank, the bank should have such data in front of them and always check it before allowing you to change your account. If you don’t, you’re more likely to be a fake email, call, or message, so be careful. Also, never forget, Bank will never ask for sensitive information such as Credit Card number or CVV etc.

3. Break the loop

Call the official phone number or visit the official website URL without telling the data over the phone or clicking the link. Use a different communication method to verify the authenticity of the source. For example, if you receive an email from a friend asking for a wire transfer, send a text message or call to your friend directly to ask if he/she really sent the email.

4. Use spam filters

If your email program hasn’t properly removed the junk email, or if you haven’t marked a email as suspicious, it’s a good idea to change your settings. A good spam filter uses a variety of information to determine which emails are likely to be junk emails. It detects suspicious files and links, creates a blacklist of suspicious IP addresses and sender IDs, and analyzes the content of the message to identify potential fake ones.

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