How to Protect Yourself From Social Engineering

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Your device is a valuable tool that can help you stay connected with friends and family, stay organized, and manage your finances. However, it can also be a target for criminals looking to steal your personal information or money. One way they do this is through social engineering attacks, which exploit the trust we have in people we know online.

This article will explore the concept of social engineering attacks and how you can protect yourself from them.

What is Social Engineering

Social engineering is a manipulation technique that exploits human error. It is a tactic where a cybercriminal lurks on people’s social media pages to steal their confidential data, such as passwords or banking information, so they can accomplish their goals with ease.

Sometimes social engineering takes advantage of the trust people have in colleagues or companies. Other times, it preys on people when they’re feeling vulnerable or fearful — for example, when they’re lonely and seeking human connection during a once-in-a-century pandemic. Now that so many people are socially isolated from one another, relying on technology for everything from work to grocery deliveries to virtual happy hours, it’s more important than ever to spot the signs of a social engineering attempt.  

Types of Social Engineering attacks

Phishing: The fraudulent practice of sending emails pretending to be from reputable companies to induce individuals into revealing personal information such as passwords and credit card numbers.

Vishing: Also known as “voice phishing,” these are calls from attackers claiming to be government agencies such as the IRS, software vendors like Microsoft, or services offering to help with benefits or credit card rates. Attackers will often appear to be calling from local or legitimate phone numbers. Flaws in how caller ID and phone number verification work make this an increasingly popular attack that is hard to stop.

SMiShing: SMiShing refers to phishing attacks via SMS. These scams attempt to trick users into supplying content or clicking on links in SMS messages on their mobile devices, as with vishing, flaws in how caller ID and phone number verification work make this an increasingly popular attack that is hard to stop.

Spoofing:Disguising the source of communication by making it appear to come from a known and reliable sender. Email addresses, phone numbers, and websites are commonly “spoofed.”

  Tips to keep your data safe from social engineering attacks

There’s a close link between social engineering and cybersecurity. By better understanding how social engineering takes place, you can protect yourself from these sneaky attacks. Here are a few tips that will keep you from falling victim to this kind of online manipulation:

Be suspicious of unsolicited messages: If you receive a message that you were not expecting, your antennae should go up right away. Be wary, even if the message looks legitimate at first glance.  

Never use the contact information in a suspicious message: If you received a potentially suspicious message, contact the presumed sender using the information you’ve looked up independently (i.e., don’t use any contact information in the message you received) to make sure they sent the message. 

Please don’t assume your favourite apps are safe: Hackers know you’re more likely to be vigilant about phishing emails, which is why they’re increasingly trying to reach you via the apps and sites you trust.

Don’t assume your business communications are safe: If you received an email from a coworker that looks off, listen to your instincts. Reach out to that coworker using another method of communication, like a phone call, and make sure they sent you that message.

Be careful while sharing personal information online: Cybercriminals are willing and eager to harvest your comments on social media memes so they can later use personal information to break into one of your accounts. They will also scrape any public post for morsels about the person that might give them trust when pursuing phishing attacks!

Social engineering attacks are becoming sophisticated as time goes on. However, there are still steps we can take to protect our data from these types of attacks. By being aware of the different types of social engineering and knowing how to identify them, can make it much harder for attackers to gain access to your personal information.



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