The Need to Know: 3 Unique Forms of Social Engineering

By Krystal Rennie / Adlumin, Inc.

Over the last year, it’s safe to say we’ve become more social by using evolving technology and the internet. As cyber threats continue to run ramped, industries must understand the importance of cybersecurity. From law firms to hospitals, businesses have been shifting their security roadmaps and prioritizing network health.

Cybercriminals are clever. The most apparent attacks are direct attacks like data breaches and cloud-based attacks. However, there are sneakier methods that often catch people off guard, better known as social engineering.

What is social engineering? According to the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), a social engineering attack can be described as “an attacker uses human interaction (social skills) to obtain or compromise information about an organization or its computer systems. An attacker may seem unassuming and respectable, possibly claiming to be a new employee, repair person, or researcher and even offering credentials to support that identity.”

These attacks take many different forms, making it harder to pinpoint the hacker’s entry point. This blog post will highlight a few examples of these attacks and how you can remain safe in the face of socially engineered threats.

The Most Common Forms of Social Engineering

  1. Scareware: This type of attack bombards victims with false alarms and fictitious threats. Victims are misled to think that their systems are infected with malware, prompting them to install malicious software or malware itself.
  1. Baiting: These types of attacks use a false promise to pick at the victim’s greed or curiosity. Hackers then lure users into a trap that steals users’ personal information or inflicts their systems with malware. Baiting can include the use of physical media like flash drives to release the malware.
  1. Pretexting: This type of attack is unique. An attacker receives information through a series of clever lies. A pretexting scam is often initiated by the hacker pretending to need sensitive information from a victim to perform a critical task. The pretexter will ask questions required to confirm the victim’s identity and gather all their data.

Many social engineering schemes are happening daily; like all things, some techniques are more known than others. The three attacks listed above are some of the more underrated attack types. As you now understand, human interaction is a critical component of these attacks, which should make you think more carefully about the daily interactions that you have on the internet.

Where Do We Go from Here?

Now that you have this new information, you might be wondering, what’s next? Well, the best piece of advice to have when attempting to combat social engineering threats is to know the signs and prioritize security throughout your company. Social engineers manipulate feelings and human logic to lure victims into their traps. As a result, we all must be wary of what we open, click, and interact with while navigating our online experiences. Always remain alert and trust your gut instinct; if something doesn’t feel right, nine times out of 10, it isn’t right.