What is Social Engineering?

This is the art of manipulating people so they relinquish private information. The kinds of information cyberthieves seek can be different, but when people are attacked, the attackers try to dupe them into providing them their passwords or bank information, or access your computer to covertly install malicious software. Attackers use social engineering strategies as it is generally easier to take advantage of people’s natural proclivity to rely than it is to determine methods to attack their computers.

Security is all about knowing who and what to rely on. It is significant to know when and when not to take an individual at their word and when the individual you are speaking with is who they say they are. The same is correct of online exchanges and website usage: when do you trust that the website you are using is genuine or is safe to deliver your information? Ask any security expert and they will tell you that the frailest connection in the security chain is the human who accepts an individual or situation at face value. It barely matters how many locks and padlocks are on your doors and windows, or if have alarm systems, searchlights, fences with barbed wire, and armed security workers; if you rely on the individual at the gate who says he is the plumber and you let him in without first checking to see if he is genuine you are wholly exposed to whatever risk he represents.

Types of Social Engineering Attacks

Social engineering scams are not a new phenomenon; they have been going on for a number of years and yet, people continue to fall prey to them wittingly or unwittingly. This is because of the tremendous dearth of rudimentary cybersecurity training available to the employees of today’s organizations, big and small. In a bid to spread awareness of this approach and resist, here is a swift outline of today’s most common and lethal social engineering scams. If everyone learns to recognize these attacks, it will be far easier to avoid them!

1. Phishing

This is the top form of social engineering attack that is generally carried in the form of an email, chat, web ad or website that has been intended to mimic a real systems and organization. Phishing messages are created to carry a sense of resolve or fear with the object of seizing an end user’s important data. While a phishing message might come from a financial institution, the government or a large conglomerate, the call to actions vary.

2. Baiting

Baiting includes offering something tempting to an end user, by receiving login information or confidential data. The “bait” comes in several forms, such as a music or movie download on a peer-to-peer site, and physical, such as a business trademarked flash drive branded “Executive Salary Summary Q3 2016” that is left out on a desk for an end user to find. Once the bait is downloaded or used, malicious software is carried straight into the end user’s system and the attacker is able to get to work.

3. Quid Pro Quo

This involves an attacker requesting the exchange of important data or login credentials in return for a service. For instance, an end user might receive a phone call from the attacker who, pretended as a technology professional, offers free IT support or technology enhancements in exchange for login credentials. Another common case is a criminal, impersonated as a researcher, asks for access to the company’s network as part of an experiment in exchange for a few dollars. If an offer sounds too great or imposing as to be difficult to believe, it probably is quid pro quo.

4. Pretexting

Pretexting occurs when an attacker crafts a wrong sense of trust between themselves and the end user by mimicking a co-worker or anyone renowned to an end-user in order to gain access to login information. An instance of this type of rip-off is an email to an employee from what seems to be the lead of IT Support or a chat message from an investigator who claims to be doing a corporate audit.

5. Piggybacking

Piggybacking occurs when an unauthorized person physically follows an authorized individual into a limited company area or system. One tried-and-tested technique of piggybacking is when a criminal calls out to a worker to hold a door open for them as they’ve overlooked their RFID card.

How to Prevent Social Engineering Attacks

Social engineering is a budding field and with your users at your last line of defense, security teams should be watchful of each user’s activity to interfere if needed. Nevertheless, as an end user, you are responsible for monitoring your own activities.

Five Ways to Protect Yourself:

  1. First, remove any request for personal information or passwords. No one should be contacting you for your personal information through unwanted email. It’s a scam if you get asked for it.
  2. Discard requests for help or offers of assistance. Social engineers can and will either request your support with information or offer to help you. If you did not request any support from the sender, consider any requests or offers a rip-off. Do proper research about the sender before trying to send them anything.
  3. Never let dogging into the office buildings. If you get asked to let them into the premises, do not let them in unless they have the suitable IDs and authorization to be on the premises.
  4. Since phishing, vishing, and whaling are types of social engineering, never click on unidentified links in emails or messages.
  5. If you by any means suspect about that the directions provided by a coworker or executive via email, be sure to call or else confirm before executing particularly if those instructions are likely to grant access to someone else, or to wire funds or anything that might unfavorably influence the company.



Social engineering is a method in which an impostor can get access to your information resources without having to be a technical, network, or security professional. The intruder can exploit many strategies either to dupe the victim into providing the information they need to enter or to acquire the information without the victim’s knowledge.

Social engineering can pose a threat to the security of any organization, so it’s key to understanding the importance of this threat and the ways in which it can be demonstrated. Only then can suitable counter-measures be taken advantage of.


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