Social Engineering Attacks: How to Spot and Avoid Them?

The internet has become the lifeblood of every individual and business in this disrupting digital world, triggered by the pandemic. Organizations have been forced into changing their working practices with a majority of them establishing remote work or Work from Home (WFH) for their employees. This unexpected switch has seen a massive spike in cyberattacks and hackers are seizing every opportunity to take advantage of the situation.

Hacktivists are stepping up their cybercriminal activities by exploiting human psychology to trick individuals into handing over valuable personal and company data. They are utilizing “social engineering” to commit high-value cybercrimes. Although the pandemic is certainly not the first occurrence of such attacks, this phase has brought them into the mainstream of sophisticated cyber threatscape. According to KnowBe4, only about 3% of malware tries to exploit an exclusively technical flaw. The other 97% instead targets users through Social Engineering.

What is Social Engineering?

In simple terms, social engineering is the act of deceiving or manipulating someone into divulging confidential or personal information that may be used for malicious activities.

Attackers use social engineering tactics to exploit people’s natural tendency to trust others. Such attacks rely heavily on human interaction, and they are all about the ‘psychology of persuasion’. The attacker fabricates a false sense of security and trust with the unsuspecting users or employees, then encourages them into taking unsafe actions. For this reason of human manipulation, it is also considered ‘human hacking’. Many social engineering attacks exploit basic human cognitive functions like people’s willingness to be helpful, curiosities to experience new things, fears, etc.

Social engineering attackers are called social engineers. Their physiological tricks can break the strength of even the best security systems.

How Does a Social Engineering Attack Work?

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