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Social Engineering Attacks: One of the Biggest and Quietest Threats to Your Businessby@swati1012
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Social Engineering Attacks: One of the Biggest and Quietest Threats to Your Business

by Swati Nitin GuptaMay 8th, 2024
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Protect your small business from social engineering attacks with training, verification, encryption, and awareness of common scams.
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While hackers don’t differentiate between the size of their victims, certain attacks, like social engineering attacks, are most common in SMBs and SMEs.


This blog specifically addresses the unique challenges and threats you may face as a small and medium-sized business or enterprise (SMB/SME) owner.


Not for nothing, social engineering attacks are termed – unseen perils, silent threats to your small business and enterprise.

Social Engineering Attacks: The Stats and The Reports

Picture this:

📌 Per the report by Barracuda, small businesses witness 350% more social engineering attacks than larger enterprises.


📌 More than 30% of small businesses in the US have weak points that threat actors can exploit.


📌 Per the recent Verizon Data Breach Investigation Report, social engineering attacks, system intrusion, and privilege misuse incidents account for 92% of breaches in small businesses.


It is essential to understand what a social engineering attack is and how it impacts your small business to understand how it affects you.

What Is Social Engineering?

As Cisco puts it, social engineering is not a cyberattack at its heart. It is the art of persuasion and human psychology.

The modus operandi here is to target the minds of the victims like conmen and gain their trust.


With the victims’ trust gained, the attackers go in for the kill by encouraging them to

📍Divulge personal information

📍Click on malicious web links

📍Open malware-infected attachments


So, what is Social Engineering? Let’s look at the definition.

Social Engineering: The Definition

Any manipulation technique that exploits human errors to gain personal information, access, or valuables is a social engineering attack.


In technical terms, social engineering is the psychological manipulation of people into divulging confidential information or performing unsafe actions.


In layman’s terms, social engineering is an assault on your emotions and feelings to extract sensitive and personal information for malicious purposes.


In the world of cybercrime, scams related to human hacking are on the rise. These scams target unsuspecting users, playing tricks with their minds and luring them into revealing sensitive data and confidential information.


Social engineering attacks can happen

👉 Online

👉 In-person

👉 Other interactions

How Does Social Engineering Work?

Social engineering works in four steps. But essentially, it works on your cognitive biases, where a threat actor impersonates either an authoritative person or a trustworthy individual and cons you into trusting them. They work in four steps.

Preparation

This is where a threat actor collects information about your business, and this may include your business emails, messaging apps, and other sensitive information related to your business.

Infiltration

This is where a bad actor will approach you or your employees. They usually imitate a reliable resource and use the previously gathered information to validate themselves.

Exploitation

Here, a threat actor will use persuasion tricks to obtain more sensitive information from your employees or even you. The threat actor plays on the human mind and tricks you into revealing some sensitive information.

Disengagement

Once an attacker has the information they sought, they will cut off all ties with you, deploy malware in your office network, and disappear in thin air.

Why are SMBs and SMEs Prime Targets?

Whether you have a small business or a small enterprise, you are at risk of social engineering attacks. Here are the prime reasons threat actors love your small business or your small enterprise.


📍Lack of resources is one of the primary reasons threat actors target your small business or small enterprise.

📍Trusting Culture of SMBs/SMEs is an important reason for threat actors to love small businesses and enterprises.

📍Your overworked and overburdened employees who juggle multiple responsibilities are the prime targets of threat actors.


So, how do you counter these attacks on your business?


Top Ways To Protect Your Small Business From Social Engineering

Social Engineering attacks can be devastating for your small business, and your business may suffer:

📍Significant financial losses

📍Downtime

📍Reputational damage

📍Loss of Stakeholder and customers’ trust


You can counter social engineering attacks on your small business with these methods.


📌Train your employees to recognize

📍Phishing emails

📍Suspicious phone calls

📍Unsolicited requests for sensitive data


📌 Verify each email for sender addresses and the legitimacy of the data requests.


📌 Deploy two-factor authentication or multi-factor authentication on all your accounts for better security.


📌 Data encryption is your ally; embrace it with both hands. Encrypt your data at rest and in transition.


When you follow these steps, you can ensure that your small business is protected from social engineering attacks. While you are at it, here are some common scams to watch out for.

Common Scams to Watch Out For

While practicing the four ways you can mitigate the threat of social engineering attacks, keeping an eye on some of the most common scams prevalent is essential.


📌 Phishing

📌 Tech Support Scams

📌 Pretexting

📌 Baiting

📌 Malware

📌 CEO Fraud


Each of these scams is also an individual scam, but they can be deployed for sophisticated social engineering attacks.


The best method to prevent social engineering attacks is to create awareness about the various tactics used by threat actors.

Final Words

Social engineering is becoming dangerous because attacks have become sophisticated with tech evolution. Threat actors indulging in social engineering are master con artists who know how to trick you into revealing sensitive information by invoking extreme emotions in you and your employees.


So, the best way to protect your small business from social engineering is to educate your employees.