Why are Social Engineering Attacks the Weapon of Choice for Hackers?

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social engineering attacks

There are many cybersecurity threats just waiting to stop your business in its tracks. With the start of another new year, we’re seeing more risks emerge, meaning organizations of all sizes and niches have to be on their guards. As well as these new kids on the block, 2022 signals the return of a few old favorites.

Social engineering has been something of a buzz term in recent years. Whilst this cybersecurity threat is no new thing – just take a look at the long-running history of the Trojan Horse virus – the latest advancements in technology have seen social engineering attacks become more ambitious and undetectable than ever. But why are social engineering attacks the weapon of choice for hackers?

Here we delve deeper into social engineering, uncovering how it works, what hackers are really getting out of it, and how you can protect your business from becoming yet another social engineering victim.

Social engineering – the ultimate form of deception?

Unlike many automated cybersecurity threats, social engineering uses human interaction (which is where the ‘social’ aspect comes from) to infiltrate a company’s data, networks, and even its accounts. It’s a form of deception that preys on human nature, using manipulation to extract prized information out of unsuspecting individuals.

social engineering – the ultimate form of deception

The sensitive information extracted is then used maliciously by the hacker to extort the wider company.

Why is social engineering such a big threat?

The reason why social engineering remains such a prominent threat is the human element of deception. Whilst security against many other cyber threats and risks can be beefed up rather simply with the use of a VPN, data encryption, or in-built security features, human vulnerability is a little more difficult to reduce and can never be truly eliminated completely.

The varied nature of social engineering attacks makes maintaining cybersecurity even trickier. Hackers utilize security flaws of enterprises and sophisticated techniques and insights into online behavior to lure their victims in and achieve their sinister goals.

What are the types of social engineering?

Due to their unique, personalized nature, there are many types of social engineering, but these threats are usually categorized as one of the following – phishing, vishing, or smishing.

You will probably be familiar with phishing scams. This type of social engineering uses email to gain access to sensitive data, whether that’s by extracting the details through ongoing communication or directing the victim to a malicious website.

social engineering attacks - type of social engineering

Vishing uses voice communication to achieve a similar outcome. Vishing attacks have become particularly advanced in recent years, mostly due to the increased use of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) solutions across many corporate settings. Vishing has since been used to take over entire company voice communications.

Smishing uses SMS as a marketing tool to trick the victims into participating in an engineered malicious activity. Social media is also being increasingly used to conduct social engineering attacks and infiltrate the professional lives of victims.

How can I safeguard my workers and wider company?

Minimizing social engineering attacks isn’t a one-step solution. You’ll need to prepare your team and technology effectively to minimize risk.

Enrolling your team in a cyber awareness training course is a great place to begin. Through regular training, your workers can get to know exactly what social engineering is and what a social engineering attack might look like. Social engineering attacks can even be simulated to test your employees’ knowledge and in turn close vulnerabilities.

Penetration testing should also be used to highlight risks within your workforce. It’ll give you the grounding to improve the response of your staff and enhance exactly how future social engineering attacks are handled.

Find out more about social engineering testing.

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