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How to Avoid These 4 Common Social Engineering Scams

b2ap3_thumbnail_do_not_fall_victim_to_these_tricks_400.jpgHackers are always trying to find the latest exploits to infiltrate unsuspecting businesses. One of the most dangerous and arguably the most difficult to identify is called a social engineering attack, which is where the hacker exploits the end user, rather than cracking the security of technology systems.

Social engineering attacks are highly dangerous, especially since they can come in many different shapes and forms. Hackers tend to appeal to human emotions that are easily exploitable, but the primary concern for social engineering hacks is the fact that these vulnerabilities can’t be patched or augmented with security solutions. The only thing keeping your data safe from social engineering hacks is how your team deals with them, and whether or not your employees are gullible enough to hand over sensitive information.

Types of Social Engineering Hacks
There are many ways that hackers can take advantage of end users. It’s important to keep in mind that social engineering hacks are almost always in the form of phishing attacks, which are targeted attempts designed to garner information from specific individuals.

The following types of social engineering attacks are most common:

  • Familiarity: Humans have relationships with other humans. It’s part of what makes us who we are. Hackers will use these relationships to lure users into a false sense of security, persuading users to hand over sensitive credentials.
  • Information: Hackers will pose as reputable organizations, like banks, colleges, financial companies, and so on, in an attempt to get you to hand over personal information. These institutions will never ask for your credentials through an email, so if you receive a message that asks for information like this, you can identify it as a scam.
  • Authority: Some users have reported receiving messages from government institutions or local authorities that they have been accused or found guilty of crimes, and that there’s a fine that must be paid. This appeals to the fear people have that they will get in trouble, and people tend to make irrational decisions when under the duress of fear.
  • Consultation: In many cases, the user will be contacted by someone who claims to be a member of their company’s IT department. They might abuse their false identity to pull information from your employees. Since your employees are likely to trust your IT department, they’ll be more willing to hand over sensitive information.

The best way to counter social engineering and phishing scams is to educate your staff on how to handle potentially dangerous situations. They should be educated in how to approach spam and suspicious phone calls. One particularly important detail that you should always emphasize to your staff is that important information, like Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, and other personal credentials typically won’t be requested via email. Another great method of discerning potential social engineering scams is by cross referencing phone numbers and email addresses with those you currently have on file. This helps you identify fakes before it’s too late.

For more information on security best practices, White Mountain IT Services is always here to help. Just give us a call at 603-889-0800 to learn more.

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