Social engineering is quite a buzzword these days in the world of cybersecurity. But what is it, and why are businesses so afraid of it? It is a form of hacking that uses deception and manipulation to get victims to divulge information. Companies have reason to be fearful because social engineering tactics have led to a lot of destruction and millions of dollars in losses for businesses worldwide.
Phishing is one of the most rampant types of attacks these days. It has been highly successful because it uses tried-and-tested social engineering techniques to hoodwink potential victims.
What are these Social Engineering Tactics, and how do hackers use them?
- Riding on human emotion.When people get scared, nervous, pressured, or curious, they are more likely to make impulsive decisions or actions. Hackers bank on this natural reflex to get victims to reveal personal information before they can think about it. By the time they have calmed down and realized the danger, it will already be too late.
- Establishing credibility.People are quick to trust entities that have an established reputation. This includes institutions like banks or vendors, as well as personal contacts. By imitating these entities, hackers can create a credible image as one of the social engineering tactics that potential victims will almost certainly trust.
- Personalizing content.There is plenty of information in the public domain hackers can use to spin a web of deceit to capture their victims. It goes further than simply calling a target by name. They might refer to a concert you have recently attended or a restaurant you love. By creating familiarity, they cause a potential victim to let their guard down and be more vulnerable to an attack.
- Using lookalike websites.Many hackers send out links that lead to fake login pages identical to real ones as one of their social engineering tactics. A typical tactic is telling you to change your password because it is about to expire. The link they send you to is a lookalike site where you can enter your data. It all looks legit, but if you look at the URL, you see it is a fake link.
- Creating panic-inducing situations.When people get into a panic, they rarely think logically. They will act on the impulse to free themselves from the threatening situation as quickly as possible. If the hackers tell them their account will be closed if they don’t click on the link, you can expect them to click the link in a second.
- Social engineering tactics – Intentionally misspelling words.The typo errors and poor grammar commonly associated with phishing emails are intentional. It is their way of dodging detection by spam filters. Since people are not as vigilant as malware detectors, hackers easily fooled many people despite these glaring errors.
- Attacking during holidays and special events.There is a general air of excitement and engagement around these periods, and hackers capitalize on that to boost the success rate of their phishing attacks. Also, timing the attacks with these events gives an illusion of legitimacy, which makes the targets more likely to become victims. This is one of the common social engineering tactics that hackers use.
- Spreading malware through attachments.Ordinarily, most systems can detect and block malware, but if these malicious files get installed into the system through phishing, your network defenses cannot do anything about it. Once installed, malicious attachments can do a range of damage, from destroying your files to stealing sensitive data.
- Posing as top executives is a social engineering tactic.When your boss requests confidential data, you don’t ask questions and give them what they want with minimal delay. After all, that is what a good employee does, right? Exactly! Therefore, hackers have taken this new approach of pretending to be top executives to get easy access to company information.
- Creating a pretext.This social engineering tactic takes a lot of work and patience because the hackers need to build trust. Gradually, they gain the confidence of the victim, who will eventually disclose information more freely.
Final Thoughts about Social Engineering Tactics
Now that you know how hackers use social engineering tactics for phishing, you have the knowledge to avoid an attack. However, despite all the awareness and safety precautions, it is still possible to become a victim. For this, we have created an infographic called “The Top 10 Steps to Take If You Think You Have Been Hacked.” If you think you have been hacked, this tool would be very handy. You can download it right here.
If you need more information on social engineering and other cybersecurity issues, call us. We will provide everything you need to improve your protection against online threats!