Social Engineering attacks are malicious assaults carried out by taking advantage of the lack of knowledge of users and manipulating them into installing malware programs or providing sensitive information.
Conducting a Social Engineering attack is not easy, and cybercriminals use different techniques to do so. In this post, we would discuss the top ways through which Social Engineering assaults are carried out.
Phishing is one of the most common malicious attacks on the internet. It is similar to fishing. While in fishing, the food is used as bait to trap fishes; in Phishing, fake irresistible offers or virus alerts are used as bait to trap internet users.
Phishing is conducted through emails, calls, text messages, and by creating duplicate web pages of the official sources. To understand Phishing, let us take an example.
A user named X received an email that appears to be from his bank. The email tells X about a recent cyberattack on the bank servers and asks X to immediately change his banking credentials by following the link attached in the email. In anticipation of saving his bank account from the cyberattack, person X follows the given link as instructed and changes the credentials.
However, what person X does not know is that this whole story is staged; the email he got is not officially from his bank. The web page of the bank that was launched after he followed the link was a duplicate page designed exactly as the original. Finally, the banking credentials that he entered on that web page are captured by the cybercriminals.
This is the classic Phishing attempt that is followed by cyber attackers from many years. Other ways of Phishing are providing fake offers, fake foreign trips, and more.
The term Baiting is self-explanatory. In this form of Social Engineering attack, the attackers attract the victims by carefully placing the bait digitally or physically. Generally, the bait is placed in the form of physical media containing the malware.
For example, a contaminated USB drive is placed in the familiar places where the victim visits like washroom, lift, car parking, etc. The victim would curiously insert the USB drive on its system and initiate the malware installation in the background.
In Pretexting, the cyber attackers would cleverly gain the trust of the victims by impersonating someone genuine like a bank official, customer care, police official, and similar. After gaining the victim's trust, the intruder would obtain sensitive information such as social security numbers, banking credentials, login credentials, and more.
Scareware attack is another widespread Social Engineering attack. In this, the attackers would first bombard the fake warning pop-ups on the screen of the victim, which claims that their computer has been attacked by viruses.
The pop-up will then suggest the users to install an application that will clear all the viruses from the system. That app is actually fake and possibly malicious. Users usually install that Scareware in fear of virus attack and infect their system.
Tailgaiting is a physical Social Engineering attack in which a cyberattacker impersonates an authenticate employee and enters the restricted areas. Through Tailgaiting, the person can infiltrate the systems with malicious programs and steal valuable, sensitive data from the restricted areas.