Your team may know the importance of complicated passwords, software and hardware updates, and other cybersecurity musts. But do they know what to look out for when it comes to social engineering? Your business could be targeted and you may not know until it’s too late. In this article, we’ll cover what you need to know about social engineering, how you could be a target, and how to stay safe.
What Is Social Engineering?
Social engineering is the term that refers to instances where you or your team are being tricked into giving up confidential information, data, or even money. Instead of using brute force attacks, the cybercriminal will use convincing tricks that result in your team making simple, yet sometimes expensive, mistakes.
What Are Some Examples of Social Engineering?
There are a few types of social engineering out there, including:
This is one you’re probably at least familiar with. The cybercriminal sends a link that seems real but, when clicked, it could open a dangerous website or download viruses and malware.
Cybercriminals sometimes impersonate team members, managers, vendors, and others to trick the individual into sending important information or even account details.
Just like fake emails, fake websites are another form of social engineering, and they’re often reached as a result of successful phishing emails. They can be for social media, business accounts, or e-shopping websites, but the fake website will look real and ask for login information.
Social Engineering Red Flags
There are a few different signs you or your team are being tricked. It’s a red flag when the communication (such as email or text):
- Is not familiar to you or someone you have communicated with in the past
- Contains misspellings, odd phrases or requests, or other out-of-character messages
- Includes attachments or links that you weren’t expecting or is a dangerous file type
- Has CC’d several people on the email or text
- Was received during odd hours
- Asks for account information or other data that is not normally requested, or the request does not follow normal procedures
How Can You Stay Safe From Social Engineering?
1. Check before you click links and download files
When you receive an email or text, especially one you aren’t expecting, double-check that link or document before clicking.
For links, it only takes a few seconds to mouse over the hyperlink to see if it is real. If the email is from Amazon, for example, yet the hyperlink has a misspelling of Amazon.com and is followed by a string of random characters, it’s a phishing attempt. You can also opt to navigate straight to the website rather than clicking the link provided. For documents, don’t open dangerous text files or documents you didn’t specifically request.
2. Verify Sources
If you’re not sure about a link, website, or document, check with the apparent source of the information! It only takes a couple of minutes, and it may save you from headaches and financial problems for the organization. However, don’t simply respond to the communication you received.
If the email is suspicious, you’ll want to reach out to the apparent sender in person, over the phone, or over text. If you only respond to the email, you could be talking to the cybercriminal who, of course, is going to tell you the document or link is perfectly safe!
3. Always Be Vigilant
Social engineering tricks usually work because the individual in question let their guard down – even for a moment. Having a mindset that keeps you vigilant when dealing with communications will help you avoid those errors.
Always double-check links, documents, and other forms of communications before mindlessly clicking on things! Network audits can also be key to finding out if someone fell prey to a social engineering attack.
4. Trick or Train
Make sure your employees are up to date on social engineering practices and tactics. This is your surest way to keep attacks from succeeding, and one of the most cost-effective ways you can improve your cybersecurity. It only takes a second of misjudgment to fall prey, so it’s important to always be vigilant and take a few minutes to verify what you’re being sent.