For all the high-tech security that is employed, an organization’s biggest chink in its defense, when it comes to cybersecurity, can be its own employees. That is not to say that these employees are deliberately doing what they are, it’s that they are being tricked by malicious forces. This is called social engineering and it’s one of the key ways criminals use to attack their targets.
Social engineering is completely psychological and takes advantage of human fallibility. Those who employ these tactics try to human beings into revealing personal data. This can be an extremely effective tactic as it means the criminals can completely bypass the security framework, often painstakingly installed at much cost by an organization, to hit their target. Some common social engineering tactics:
Probably the most common social engineering tactic available, phishing has become unfortunately extremely common mainly because it is so effective. The basic tactic of phishing is to misguide unsuspecting employees into either revealing personal information or clicking on suspicious links which are disguised.
Through this technique, criminals pretend to be someone who is familiar to the target. They can create a fake account of a known co-worker using his/her name and photos and send emails to the target, who may reveal confidential information unless they spot the imposter. In a physical setting, they may even strike up conversations with people in the organization to ensure they become known and familiar.
A common social engineering tactic, tailgating refers to the unauthorized entry of an individual within a premise. Organizations actively try to prevent tailgating but criminals can use social engineering tactics to go beyond. They may request individuals to allow them inside an area, taking advantage of a human being’s innate tendency to not antagonize a stranger.
Criminals have been taking advantage of human behavior from time immemorial. Hence social engineering is not a new tactic. What has changes is that those same tactics have been tweaked to fit into this age of information where data is king. To prevent against social engineering attacks, the following advice may be useful:
Awareness of social engineering – Unless employees of an organization know exactly what they are against, it’s pointless to try and make them defend it. For example, many employees may not even know what the term “social engineering” means. Hence awareness of it is always the first step. Security teams should conduct regular awareness sessions about social engineering so that employees are aware of what it is and how to safeguard against it.
Keep strict infosecurity policies – These should apply to both physical and digital security. For example, companies must have strict policies on access control to prevent tailgating as well as how systems are used. From a digital perspective, organizations should come up with and strictly enforce policies which regulate how employees are supposed to deal with requests for information. There should also be monitoring to ensure compliance.
Anti-phishing – Since phishing is the most common form of social engineering attack, it is important that organizations employ anti-phishing measures in their cybersecurity solutions. In that respect, Seqrite’s Endpoint Security and Unified Threat Management solutions offer protection against phishing attacks which are thwarted before they can enter the network.
Run regular audits – It is important to run regular audits to test your cyber durability. Organizations should consider running specialized audits to check responsive for social engineering attacks. The results should be regularly audited to gauged the preparedness of the organization for the same.
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