In computer security, social engineering is the malicious technique of psychological manipulation that exploits the online behavior of the users to deceive them to divulge private data for system technologies, bank details, passwords, and other confidential information. When the attackers access this sensitive data, they use it to orchestrate criminal actions such as stealing of money and this causes damage to victims and organizations.
Types of social engineering attacks
In the current digital era, there are countless types of social engineering that happen in large organizations, government corporations, and individuals leading to a lot of losses. These are the most common ways that attackers use to target victims.
Pretexting is one of the common types of social engineering attacks that encompasses an attacker using a false identity to trick and extract information from a targeted victim. The attackers pretend to be the staff of a trusted authority to manipulate the susceptible people to believe they can solve a possible problem that is prevailing. Once, a person trusts them, he/she shares information that is used to access unauthorized accounts. For instance, an attacker can impersonate an IT consultant for a specific company which he is targeting. He can then talk to junior staff and ask them to provide some relevant details purporting to assist them in tackling a system malfunction in that organization.
Phishing is a type of social engineering attack that entails sending email and phone messages professing to be a trusted entity. The email messages contain links and when the recipient is duped to click, he is directed to false websites where he can log in some credentials that open leeway for installation of malware and other ransom attacks. This method is also used to lure victims to provide credit card passwords and bank account details which lead to devastating results.
Baiting is related to other types of social engineering attacks such as phishing but it entices the target victim with prizes to make the desired action. For example, an attacker could impersonate an officer from a legit company like a media organization and promise the internet user to download certain music or video free of charge and in return, there will be a reward if he is among the first to implement the suggestion. But before the target victim starts to download the video, the procedure demands him to fill some credentials that could be for a certain account. Once the victim provides the login credentials, the attackers proceed with their crime.
Quid Pro Quo
Quid Pro Quo is dependent on persuading the end-users to provide confidential information in exchange for technical service or a gift that can include being a legal, information technology, legal or financial. For example, an attacker can make phone calls to corporate companies and pose as an IT expert who is researching as a part of an experiment and is willing to offer support. When the corporate firm falls to the attacker’s shenanigans, it provides login details that are used to perform malicious damages.
Social engineering attacks are prevalent across the globe and some people have even fallen prey to them unknowingly. But with soundproof information security measures in place, it is possible to avoid their attacks. Businesses and individuals need to be aware of some of the tricks which the attackers tap to achieve their destructive deeds. It is equally important for everybody to stay alert, think before acting, and avoid trusting strangers who pose to be so helpful as when the deal sounds too good, keep away and you will be protected against all types of social engineering attacks.