Cybersecurity Defense Strategies Against Social Engineering by@emmaakin

Cybersecurity Defense Strategies Against Social Engineering

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Social engineering is a psychological maneuver on the victims’ minds to gain unauthorized access to confidential information, systems, or data. It contributes to [91 percent of global data breaches] Most common forms of social engineering attacks include phishing, smishing, pretexting, honeytrap, tailgating, baiting, etc. Penetration testing is a recommended method that tests the security of a business in case the human fails to brush off the whims of attackers. There must be regular training and education to prevent or minimize data breaches caused by outdated security practices.

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Emmanuel Akin-Ademola

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Being steps ahead of cyber attackers matters a lot to companies. As good as this sounds, the required mechanism to deal with the cyber menace appreciates costs and efforts as the social engineering ruses continue to grow more advanced and sophisticated in targeting the most fragile point in a security firewall — people. Social engineering vectors do not limit their operations to online activities but also exploit offline activities of targets or victims.

What is social engineering?

To draw a clear picture of what social engineering is, here’s an example:

Mr. Greg is sipping a cup of coffee during the work break. He opens his email application and finds a message that looks like his IT team, telling him there’s a problem with his access account, and he may be denied access to his work in the next few days. Without suspecting the message, he sends his details or clicks on a particular link. The company is automatically set up for a loss that would only be clearer after the eventual damages. This is an example of phishing. It contributes to 91 percent of global data breaches.

Any variation of this above example shows what social engineering attack means.

Simply put, it means a psychological maneuver on the victims’ minds to gain unauthorized access to confidential information, systems, or data. Doing it without the victim’s involvement comes with hurdles and high-level difficulty, but the attacks can be made easier with the victim’s ignorant consent to the attacker.

Most common forms of social engineering attacks

  1. Phishing

Phishing is a neck thorn to many businesses and is hard to detect or combat. They usually come in a façade of legitimacy or credibility to individuals and bodies. Often, they come in a form that impinges fear, urgency, and curiosity in victims’ minds. It could be a court notice to appear, an IRS refund scheme, a bank link scam, or a newsletter from a website that uses information like job postings to get the victims’ data for more access to their inboxes.

  1. Vishing

This is a type of phishing, but it is categorized differently for its approach. This way, the attacker uses a phone call to obtain sensitive information in a persuasive tone or make you execute their menace in a way you’re most likely ignorant of.

  1. Smishing

This phishing comes in the form of a text message — the attacker gets into your mind as fast as possible to perform an action or follow the lead of a malicious link that puts your privacy at a disadvantage.

Other social engineering attacks include pretexting, honeytrap, quid pro pro, tailgating, baiting, etc. However, this article’s objective is not to bore you with the detail while leaving out the main goal, which is to inform you of the necessary means of preventing social engineering attacks.

Approaches for preventing social engineering vectors:

  • Information approach

This approach requires a continuous and sound system to ensure the employees are aware and abreast of past and potential incidents of how attackers execute their schemes. Also, the means of communication by any department should be clear to the workers; this helps raise more eyebrows when an unsolicited message or call pops up. Since the ways of attacks evolve and change over time, there must be regular training and education to prevent or minimize data breaches caused by holding on to outdated security practices.

  • Technical Approach

This is the computational approach to protecting sensitive information. Penetration testing is a recommended method that tests the security of a business in case the human fails to brush off the whims of attackers. A detective algorithm, firewall, antivirus, or malware that prohibits access to compromised sites can complement the human effort or fill in the possible loopholes that come with a security system, software, or hardware.

The above approaches are the fundamental practices enterprises need to be familiar with. Both methods must be considered frequently in a non-tiring fashion as attackers do not also get tired of exploring new means of poking around for sensitive information. Keeping your organization safe is essential and beneficial.

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by Emmanuel Akin-Ademola @emmaakin.Freelance Technical writer on AI, Cloud computing, Blockchain, and Cybersecurity.
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