Safeguard your data from social engineers

The psychology of influencing individuals to feel compelled to do specific behaviours- also known as social engineering is one of the most used cyberattack strategies. In the world of cybersecurity, social engineering is nefarious — and the realm of phishing attack perpetrators. Bad actors utilize a variety of psychological tactics to persuade their victims to open strange emails, click dangerous links, hand over passwords, download dubious files, and engage in other risky activities that might put organisations at risk of costly disasters.

All social engineering approaches are founded on cognitive biases, which are particular characteristics of human decision-making. These biases, sometimes known as “bugs in human hardware,” are used in a variety of ways to build attack tactics. Social engineering is used in almost every form of cybersecurity attack. According to studies, social engineering attacks are responsible for 93% of successful data breaches. The number one type of social engineering attack is said to be phishing attacks that take advantage of human mistakes to steal passwords or spread malware, generally through infected email attachments or malicious website links.

The inclusion of human mistakes by authorized users, rather than a defect in software or operating systems, makes social engineering so hazardous. To successfully guard against these, it is necessary to understand how/in what ways human beings are used by social engineers to achieve their aims and use this knowledge to safeguard companies.

Attackers are now targeting devices as a route into the corporate network or cloud, as more individuals have moved to remote working and link back into the workplace from their home networks, frequently using their personal laptops. They try to persuade unsuspecting victims to visit malicious websites, click on harmful links, or provide personal information over the phone or through email. For example, COVID-19 social engineering lures have featured an inflow of phishing and spear-phishing attempts targeted at exploiting the virus’s worries and concerns.

Mohamed Abdallah, Regional Director – Middle East, Turkey, and Africa at SonicWall

“Quite aside from the power of phishing lures related to Coronavirus themes, the race to be first to obtain a vaccine has led to several incidents of espionage-related to stealing IP from research laboratories. Based on recent evidence, it is likely that we will see further APT campaigns trying to take advantage of the security vulnerabilities brought about by workplace disruption – from office to home and back again – that at present do not seem to have any end in sight and will certainly extend into 2021 at least,” said Mohamed Abdallah, Regional Director – Middle East, Turkey, and Africa at SonicWall.

The very first step to take would be to identify an attack. Emails requesting PII, phone numbers, full names, and social IDs, as well as emails informing and offering rewards and victories, are all red flags showing a potential attack. Some of the other signs to note would be to identify vague and general greetings in email, poorly written content, content showing urgency etc.

Another tactic used by social engineers is to pose a problem that can only be addressed by you validating your data. A link will be included in their letter that will take you to a form where you can fill out your information.

Aamir Lakhani, cybersecurity researcher for Fortinet’s FortiGuard Labs

Aamir Lakhani, cybersecurity researcher for Fortinet’s FortiGuard Labs, said, “Attackers are attempting to capitalize on the current business environment via social engineering attacks. They are doing so by impersonating legitimate organizations, such as the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization, and offering fake informational updates, discounted masks and other supplies, and even promises of accelerated access to vaccines. Similar attacks target healthcare workers, political movements, or even the recently unemployed using the same sort of tactics.”

Implementing each layer of a defence in depth plan is a great place to start when it comes to safeguarding your company from any cyber threats. The first approach is to make staff feel included in the security team. A fantastic place to start is by assisting them in comprehending the ramifications of a security occurrence and how it may affect them personally. When people see connections like these – between safe cybersecurity practices and the positive impact they feel they’re having when everyone is engaged and responsible – it should lead to immediate changes in how they act when they’re confronted with suspicious cyber behaviour, questionable email, or websites.

Rohit Bhargava, Practice Head – Cloud & Security at Cloud Box Technologies

“There are lot of recommendations from US-CERT, having email protection, endpoint protection like EDR/XD, firewalls will surely help and reduce the attack surface. In addition, never replying to personal information via tools like emails and unsolicited phone calls. As also, verifying the identity of the sender by calling the company will help remove any such attempts. Additionally, taking advantage of email security offered by your browser to report any suspicious access event,” said Rohit Bhargava, Practice Head – Cloud & Security at Cloud Box Technologies.

Knowing what information is useful to a hacker might help figure out what needs to be kept safe from them. Because the ‘Crown Jewels’ will be unique to every company. There is no such thing as a “one-size-fits-all” solution.

Attacks on companies and small businesses are not only growing more prevalent, but they’re also becoming more sophisticated. With hackers inventing ever-more ingenious ways to dupe workers and individuals into giving over sensitive corporate information, businesses must exercise due diligence to keep one step ahead of cybercriminals.