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What Is Social Engineering Attack?


Social Engineering Attack
Social Engineering is an act of psychological manipulation of the people into performing some actions or disclosing confidential information. It is one of the most popular and threatful attacks in the cyber world. It is known as threatful because, in social engineering attacks,cybercriminals do not look for vulnerability within the system. Instead, they manipulate or trick the people(either victims or system administrations or both) to divulge confidential pieces of information. And with the help of such confidential pieces of information, they can have unauthorized access to the system.

How Does Social Engineering Attack Work?

In a typical social engineering attack, cybercriminals communicate with the targeted victim directly or indirectly pretending their trustworthy and divulging the information to them. If this psychological manipulation works, then the cybercriminals can further manipulate the victim to perform some actions such as filling out some forms which consist of some credential information such as credit card details, passwords, pins, etc…

Let us understand it through an example:
Alex got a mail to join a free webinar on his interested topic free of cost by clicking on a link and signing up there. Excitedly Alex clicks on that malicious link and uses the login with the Facebook option in that link. After clicking on it, an interface opens up as same as the Facebook login interface, and here Alex without verifying the source of that mail fills up his email and password of the Facebook account and which eventually got his Facebook account compromised by the cybercriminal who sent the mail and created this whole fake scenario in order to trick Alex and get his Facebook account’s email and password.

What are the goals of social engineering attacks?

The goals of social engineering attacks vary but usually involve stealing sensitive information or gaining access to systems and data.
In some cases, the attacker may simply be looking to gather the information that can be used for identity theft or fraud. In other cases, the attacker may be trying to gain access to a company’s network in order to steal trade secrets or other sensitive data.
Social engineering attacks may be carried out for political or ideological reasons. For example, an attacker may try to gain access to a company’s network in order to delete or modify critical data.

What are some common techniques used in social engineering attacks?
Attackers use a variety of techniques to carry out social engineering attacks. Some of the most common include:

  • Building trust: The attacker builds rapport with the victim in order to gain their trust. This may involve feigning interest in the victim’s personal life or pretending to be a friend or colleague.
  • Playing on emotions: The attacker tries to exploit the victim’s emotions, such as fear, guilt, or sympathy, in order to get them to comply with the attacker’s requests.
  • Creating a sense of urgency: The attacker creates a sense of urgency by claiming that the victim’s action (or inaction) will have dire consequences. For example, the attacker may claim that the victim’s account will be closed unless they take immediate action.

What are some common examples of social engineering attacks?

  • Phishing: Phishing is a type of social engineering attack that is typically carried out by email. The attacker spoofs the sender’s address and sends an email that appears to be from a trusted source, such as a bank or government agency. The email may contain a link to a malicious website or an attachment that, when opened, installs malware on the victim’s computer.
  • Vishing: Vishing is a type of social engineering attack that is typically carried out by phone. The attacker spoofs the caller ID and pretends to be from a trusted source, such as a bank or government agency. The attacker then tries to trick the victim intorevealing sensitive information or granting access to systems.
  • Baiting: Baiting is a type of social engineering attack that relies on physical media, such as USB drives or CDs. The attacker leaves the media in a public place, such as a parking lot or elevator, in the hope that someone will find it and plug it into their computer. The media may contain malware that infects the victim’s computer or sensitive information that the attacker can use for identity theft or fraud.

What are some common defense against social engineering attacks?

There are a number of steps you can take to defend against social engineering attacks:

  • Be suspicious of unsolicited communications: Be suspicious of unsolicited emails, phone calls, or visitors. If you’re not expecting a communication, be wary of clicking on links or opening attachments.
  • Verify the identity of the sender: If you receive an unsolicited communication, take the time to verify the identity of the sender. Don’t assume that an email is from a trusted source just because the sender’s address looks legitimate.
  • Don’t reveal personal or sensitive information: Don’t reveal personal or sensitive information, such as login credentials or credit card numbers, to anyone who you don’t know and trust.
  • Keep your anti-virus software up-to-date: Keep your anti-virus software up-to-date and run regular scans to detect and remove malware.

What should you do if you suspect you’ve been the victim of a social engineering attack?
If you suspect that you’ve been the victim of a social engineering attack, there are a few steps you should take:

  • Change your passwords: If you’ve revealed your login credentials, change your passwords immediately.
  • Run a malware scan: If you’ve opened a malicious attachment or clicked on a malicious link, run a malware scan to detect and remove any malware that may have been installed on your computer.
  • Alert your friends and family: If you’ve revealed sensitive information, such as your Social Security number or credit card number, alert your friends and family so they can be on the lookout for identity theft or fraud.
  • Report the incident to the authorities: If you’ve been the victim of a social engineering attack, report the incident to the authorities, such as the police or the Federal Trade Commission.
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