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Warning: Protect Yourself from Social Engineering!

Warning: Protect Yourself from Social Engineering!

Digital technology has proven to make our lives easier, faster, better, and more fun. It really brings convenience to our routines, from communicating with one another to doing works. However, this advancement has also brought unexpected threats with them, which are known as cybercrimes.
One type of cybercrimes that everyone, including organizations, should really be aware of is social engineering. Social engineering is the term used for various malicious activities carried out through human interactions. It uses psychological manipulation to trick people into making security mistakes or providing sensitive information.

4 Phases of Social Engineering

Surprisingly, social engineering does not require advanced knowledge of cybersecurity. It is because social engineering is the art of manipulating people, making them give up their confidential information. It usually occurs in four phases. First phase is called investigation. Attackers prepare the ground to lunch the attacks by identifying the targets and gathering their background information to select the attack methods.

The next phase is called hook. It is when attackers deceive the victims to gain a foothold. They interact with the targets, spin a story, and take control in their interaction. For example, in phishing email, an attacker approaches a victim with a fake job promotion in a company and the victim would accept it by clicking the malicious link.

After that is play phase. In this phase, attackers execute the attack and gets the targets’ information. They send ransomware attacks when the targets click the malicious link and later it quickly spreads across their network. The last phase is called exit. After successfully attack the targets, attackers close the interaction by removing all traces of malware to avoid getting caught.

5 Techniques of Social Engineering

There are five most used social engineering techniques that people and organizations should know. First is baiting. Attackers use a false promise to provoke the targets’ greed or curiosity and provide something that victims believe is useful. Next, watering hole. It involves launching or downloading malicious code from a legitimate website, which is usually visited by the targets.

After that is pretexting. Attackers create a fake identity and use it to manipulate their targets into providing private information. Next is phishing. It is the most popular social engineering attack type, when attackers use a message sent by email, social media, or SMS to obtain sensitive information or trick the targets to click a link to a malicious website. Last is spear phishing. It targets specific individuals with a privileged access to systems or highly valuable sensitive information.

5 Ways to Prevent Social Engineering

Social engineering can be managed by taking proactive ways to prevent it. First, avoid opening emails and attachments from suspicious sources. Better to not reply to the email or messages if you do not know the sender, and if you know the sender but still find it suspicious, better to check first with other trusted sources. Next, you should enable spam filter to categorize emails effortlessly, and freed from the horrible tasks of identifying suspicious emails.

Moreover, you could also use multifactor authentication to ensure your account’s protection as it requires multiple methods of authentication to verify the user's identity. Also, make sure to keep your antivirus or antimalware software updated by checking it regularly. Last, conduct a pen-test to detect and try to exploit vulnerabilities in your organization. Later, you can identify which system you need to concentrate on protecting as well as the types of social engineering attacks you may be prone to.


Considering that various activities are now completely digital, we certainly need to be aware of social engineering because it targets the minds and carelessness of humans as victims. Therefore, the adequate knowledge of social engineering is highly important for people as well as organizations.

Sillam, Y., R.M., Hathaway, M., Kerman, D., Lynch, B., Hewitt, N., Ray, T., Hathaway, M., & McKeever, G. (2019, December 29). What is Social Engineering | Attack Techniques & Prevention Methods | Imperva. Learning Center. https://www.imperva.com/learn/application-security/social-engineering-attack/

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