Social engineering attacks are less talked about, but are equally devastating and involve malicious outsiders preying on the victim's weaknesses to wreak havoc inside organizations. Social engineering attacks increased to a whopping 83% in 2018 and about 91% of data breaches begin with a social engineering attack.
These figures paint a clear picture of why organizations need life-saving tips about social engineering attack prevention. Read on to find how Gamma can help you deviate social engineering attacks and keep potential data breaches at bay.
What exactly is a social engineering attack?
Your organization can be a model of good corporate security practices with steel encased server vaults, impossible to guess passwords and regular security updates. However, none of this matters as long as the weakest link in organizational security, i.e., your people are not secure.
Social engineering is a broad term that encompasses a broad spectrum of malicious activities. Social engineering attacks are carried out by "social engineers" who exploit the weakness found in every organization i.e., human psychology. Social engineering attacks involve tactics where the attacker influences, gains trust or threatens victims to obtain valuable security information from employees. These malicious predators can take any disguise to fool employees and pose serious threats to organizational security.
What are the types of Social Engineering Attacks?
With the exponential increase in the technical capabilities of malicious attackers, social engineering attacks are continuously taking different forms. However, there are some common social engineering attacks, some of which are mentioned below:
Phishing and Spear Phishing
Phishing and Spear Phishing are the most common types of social engineering attacks. It involves an attempt to access personal information such as credentials by acting as an authentic identity to fool individuals. The difference between them is that phishing attacks are usually targeted towards a large number of people while spear phishing attacks are targeted towards single individuals.
Attackers usually send spoof emails or instant messages to the victim. These emails and messages often instill a sense of urgency to manipulate victims into responding quickly. Victims are usually steered towards thinking that the phishing emails or messages are real, and are often asked to insert their sensitive details to a fraudulent website designed to look exactly like a legitimate site.
Unwanted tech support
Tech support scams are also becoming increasingly popular, with attackers scaring victims by telling them that there is something wrong with their device. As a result, victims are fooled into paying for technical issues that they never have.
Attackers usually send emails or phone calls to victims, promising to solve issues with their system. Most attackers tell victims that updates are needed, and victims fall into the trap, often running commands on their system, which can result in it getting compromised.
Clickbait is the technique of trapping individuals to click on website links with tempting headlines. Cybercriminals place these links in legitimate sites with similar content, so victims get trapped into clicking the link.
Attackers often send enticing advertisements related to games, movies, or other websites. Victims are fooled into thinking that these advertisements are legit, and clicking these links installs executable commands or malware in the system.
Fake emails from trusted people
Another social engineering attack involves offenders posing to be someone that the victim knows and sending legitimate-looking emails to the victim. Victims are usually trapped into thinking that their trusted person is in need, thus sending over financial details or even money to the offender.
Pretexting is similar to phishing. However, phishing involves faking an urgency, while pretexting creates a false sense of trust with the victim by making stories.
Attackers usually pose as authentic entities, sending emails or messages to the victim. Victims are then manipulated to carry out tasks that can exploit the weak aspects of an organization.
Sending downloadable content
Another form of social engineering attack is sending files containing music, movies, games, or documents that are too good to be true. A newbie on the internet gets fooled into thinking that they have obtained the files they were looking for, when in fact, these fake files have malware embedded in them.
Quid Pro Quo
Like baiting, quid pro quo attacks promise benefits to the victims in exchange for crucial information. The benefits of a quid pro quo attack are disguised as a service, whereas the benefits of clickbait usually take the form of a good.
What are the 7 life-saving tips about social engineering attack prevention?
There are multiple types of social engineering attacks, and the list grows day by day. Security-conscious organizations need to keep in mind the 7 life-saving tips for social engineering attack prevention.
Gamma is a predictive, people-centric tool that can help you prevent social engineering attacks by securing and training your organization’s weakest link, your employees.
Read on to find the 7 life-saving tips that you can use for social engineering attack prevention:
Educate and train your staff
The first and most important requirement for social engineering attack prevention is adequate knowledge. If your employees are not aware of the types of attacks playing out in the technical fraternity, then they can certainly not defend these attacks.
The employees of your organization must be given proper training related to social engineering attacks, when they enter the organization, and also periodically when they are working for the organization. The training materials can include PowerPoint presentations, surveys, or training solutions like Gamma. Gamma provides configurable infotypes, warnings, and notifications to train and engage organizational staff and ensure that social engineering attacks are always pushed to the bay.
Determine which of your assets are valuable to attackers
Doing an asset audit is critical to social engineering attack prevention. Companies that actively seek to prevent social engineering attacks often end up focusing on protecting the wrong things. Organizations often look into the business side of things when protecting assets, but attackers usually look for weak assets that they can exploit to gain access to the company.
The value of an asset to the attacker is different from the value of an asset to the organization. It is hence important to understand things from the attacker's perspective. Carry out an independent assessment of assets to find the weakest asset. You can then think of ways to protect these assets from being subjected to social engineering attacks.
Gamma uses real-time AI to monitor your application for threat detection continuously. Using this analysis, you can easily detect your weakest assets and work on it.
Create an organizational policy and back it up with awareness training
Once you know which assets are most vital to attackers, you must create and implement policies for social engineering attack prevention of these assets. A policy is just a written statement if nobody follows it. Hence, merely creating a policy is not enough, as you must also back it up with proper security awareness training.
Employees need a clear set of guidelines to respond well to a given situation. In the absence of such guidance, employees can default to actions that they perceive are correct, often giving away valuable information that they should not. Hence, one of the most critical aspects of the policy should be proper awareness training that encompasses all employees. Gamma helps you train your employees and keep them up to date with your organizational policies by providing complete and configurable security training.
Give employees a sense of ownership
Employees are indeed the weakest link of the organization, and the security of your organization is dependent on the security measures taken by the weakest employee. Instilling a sense of ownership in employees is hence absolutely essential for social engineering attack prevention.
To do so, you need to build a culture of security within the organization. A culture of security is an organization-wide ethos that encourages employees to make decisions aligned with organizational security policies. You can use Gamma to change employee habits and instill a culture of security in the entire organization. Stop treating your employees as a security threat and make them part of the solution by giving them a sense of ownership.
Monitor employee behavior
Creating policies and instilling a culture of security sure helps foster better security practices within the organization. However, there will always be some intentional or unintentional activities by employees that can pose huge security risks in an organization. It is hence essential to continuously monitor employee behavior and insert corrective measures against potentially fatal security behavior.
Gamma offers a forensic dashboard to provide visibility for the IT admin. It continuously monitors employee actions in real-time and notifies when an employee makes a security mistake. There are two dashboards:
- The user dashboard enables social influence and improves security behaviors.
- Admin dashboard helps monitor, approve, or block events and do a digital forensic analysis.
Keep software up to date
Another vital tip for social engineering attack prevention is to keep software updated. When your software runs unpatched, hackers can usually determine it. Out of date software can easily be exploited. Software patches usually fix vital security issues, and staying on top of these patches can mitigate a lot of risks.
Set up predictive people-centric security solutions
More than 77% of organizations do not have cybersecurity incident response plans. Apart from that, most companies take about 6 months to detect a data breach. Add to this the fact that 43% of cyber attacks usually target small businesses. These figures clearly state the need for an external, people-centric security solution that can fill the void of employee training and monitor organizational systems continuously to detect possible data breaches.
Organizations might put all security measures into place, but proper monitoring solutions and people-centric security solutions are what helps in social engineering attack prevention. It is hence always a good idea to hand over security-related matters to security experts like Gamma.
Gamma is your solution to this social engineering attack prevention tip. Gamma proactively coaches your employees against malicious, insider, or negligent security threats. Gamma seamlessly integrates with your existing SaaS applications and uses real-time AI to monitor SaaS applications for threat detection.
Gamma also provides configurable infotypes, warnings, and notifications to train and engage users. Its forensic dashboard provides visibility for the IT admin, making it possible to keep social engineering attacks at bay.