What Are Social Engineering Attacks And How Can They Be Prevented?

May 26th · 3 min read

__Most people are familiar with the term “hacking” in the context of computers and IT. Hacking refers to taking advantage of a system's weakness to gain access or cause damage. However, hacking can also refer to non-technical methods of taking advantage of people to access information or systems. __

This type of attack is called a social engineering attack.

Social engineering attacks are becoming increasingly common as hackers target individuals rather than systems. These attacks exploit the fact that people are generally trusting and can be gullible. Hackers use this to their advantage by tricking people into giving them information or access to systems.

Types of social engineering attacks

There are many different types of social engineering attacks, but some of the most common include:

Phishing attacks:

Phishing is a social engineering attack that uses email or text messages to trick people into giving out personal information or clicking on malicious links. These messages often appear from a legitimate source, such as a bank or other organization.

Pretexting:

Pretexting is when a hacker contacts someone and pretends to be someone else to get information from them. For example, a hacker may pretend to be a customer service representative from a person’s bank to get their account number or other sensitive information.

Baiting:

Baiting is when a hacker leaves a USB drive or other type of storage device in a public place, such as a parking lot, hoping that someone will find it and plug it into their computer. This gives the hacker access to the victim’s system.

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Quid pro quo:

Quid pro quo attacks are when a hacker offers something to a victim to access their system or information. For example, a hacker may offer to fix a person’s computer in exchange for their login credentials.

How to avoid social engineering attacks

There are some steps you can take to protect yourself from social engineering attacks:

Be aware of the risks: Social engineering attacks are becoming more common, so it’s important to be aware of them. If you’re not expecting a message from someone, be careful about opening it.

Don’t click on links: If you receive an email or text message from someone you don’t know, don’t click on any links. This could lead to your device being infected with malware or your personal information being stolen.

Verify requests for information: If you’re ever asked to give out personal information, such as your Social Security number or bank account number, verify the request is legitimate. You can do this by calling the organization from which the person claims to be and asking if they made the request.

Don’t be rushed: Hackers will often try to rush you into making decisions. If you’re ever feeling pressured to give out information or click on a link, take a step back and assess the situation.

Think before you act: Social engineering attacks rely on people being impulsive. Take a moment to think about what you’re doing before you act.

Secure your devices: One of the best ways to protect yourself from social engineering attacks is to secure your devices. Make sure you have strong passwords and up-to-date security software.

Social engineering attacks are becoming more common as hackers target individuals rather than systems. These attacks exploit the fact that people are generally trusting and can be gullible. Hackers use this to their advantage by tricking people into giving them information or access to systems.

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