What is Social Engineering Attack?

There are various ways cybercriminals conduct illicit activities. With the advancement in security technology, it has become challenging for them to deceive the security programs and attack the device. So, they are using the traditional technique in modern ways to infiltrate the system. This technique is known as the Social Engineering attack.

In this post, we would discuss what Social Engineering attack is, how it is planned and performed, and how to prevent it from happening to you.

What is Social Engineering Attack

The Social Engineering attack is one of the oldest and traditional forms of attack in which the cybercriminals take advantage of human psychology and deceive the targeted victims into providing the sensitive information required for infiltrating their devices and accounts. It can also be called "human hacking."

Generally, cybercriminals take advantage of the security vulnerabilities of the system to infiltrate it and release malicious code. This may or may not require any human intervention. On the other hand, the Social Engineering attack needs human interaction to happen successfully.

Cybercriminals use various illicit techniques to get inside of the victims' heads and force them into revealing sensitive information. They create a sense of fear or urgency so that the victims do not get time to think about their actions.

A typical example of a Social Engineering attack is the fake jackpot offers or fake virus alerts sent through email. Almost every internet or email user might have encountered email titles "Congratulations! You have won a lottery of $1 Miliion," or something similar. Such emails offer the unreal jackpot to the users, and for sending that jackpot, they ask for sensitive information in return. In anticipation and greed of getting the jackpot, many users provide all their info to the fraudster behind the fake email and thus become a victim of a Social Engineering attack.

How Does Social Engineering Work

Social Engineering is conducted by analyzing what victims would react if a fake alert or offer is presented before them. Conducting a Social Engineering attack is not a straightforward task. The attackers need to do extensive research on the company or the individual for knowing their psych.

Here is the lifecycle of the Social Engineering attack;

  • The first step is to identify the victims and do background research to know how they can be psychologically exploited, and then plan a suitable attack.

  • Now the attacker would try to engage the victim in conversation or send him some small genuine offers. This is done to gain the trust of the victim.

  • After gaining the trust of the victim, the intruder would now gain the sensitive information of the victims by promising them more rewards or similar thing. The victims would willingly provide their information in the sense of greed, urgency, or fear, depending on the situation.

  • In this stage, the cyber attacker would finally perform the Social Engineering attack using the information gathered in the previous step.

  • Finally, after fulfilling the attack, the cybercriminals would remove all their traces and discontinue their interactions with the victims.

How to Prevent Social Engineering Attack

As it is clear by now, a Social Engineering attack can be pretty dangerous. However, by being attentive and not getting into the tricks of cyberattackers, you can easily stay away from it. Here are some preventive tips −

  • Never share your confidential information with anyone: No genuine or reputed organization would ask for your personal information on the call or email.

  • Verify the tempting offers: Maximum users become victims of a Social Engineering attack because they are tempted to unreal offers and go for them without verifying their authenticity.

  • Use Multifactor Authentication on all your accounts: If MFA is enabled, then even if the attackers get their hand on your credentials, your account would be secure.

  • Keep installed a robust security solution: A security solution would prevent you from spam emails, phishing attacks, and other similar social engineering attacks.