What is Social Engineering? Definition & Protection Tips

You may have heard the term social engineering being used more and more in recent years, but what exactly is it? In short, social engineering is a type of fraud that uses deception and manipulation to trick people into handing over sensitive information or money. Social engineering attacks can be difficult to spot, but there are steps you can take to protect yourself and your business.

Here's what you need to know about social engineering and how to guard against it.

What is social engineering

Social engineering relies on deceiving victims to extract sensitive information. Attackers often pose as someone trustworthy, such as an employee of a company or an IT support technician, to trick their targets into disclosing private information or transferring money. Once an attacker has the information they need, they can use it to gain access to systems, commit identity theft, or cause other types of financial damage.

Social engineering attacks can be difficult to spot because they often target individuals rather than businesses or systems directly. For instance, some social engineering examples might include an attacker targeting your businesses by impersonating customers or suppliers to obtain login credentials or other sensitive information.

They might also try to exploit individual employees by gaming the company's expense reimbursement system or gaining access to systems through stolen login credentials. Regardless of how they enter the picture, social engineers rely on human interaction to complete their attacks.

How to protect against social engineering attacks

There are several steps you can take to protect your business against social engineering attacks:

1. Educate your employees about social engineering and how attackers operate

Employees should be aware of the various types of social engineering attacks and be able to recognise suspicious behaviour. Providing regular training on cybersecurity best practices can help reduce the risk of an attack succeeding.

2. Implement security controls such as Multi-factor authentication and user activity monitoring

These controls can make it more difficult for attackers to gain access to systems and data. Multi-factor authentication requires users to provide multiple forms of identification before being granted access, while user activity monitoring tracks user behaviour and flags suspicious activity.

3. Conduct penetration testing on a regular basis

Penetration testing simulates real-world attacks so that vulnerabilities can be identified and addressed before attackers have a chance to exploit them. It should be noted that one of the techniques penetration testers can use to gain initial access to a system and/or sensitive data on the system is social engineering.

4. Review your organisation's security policies and procedures regularly

Security policies should be designed to protect sensitive data while still allowing employees to do their jobs efficiently. Reviewing these policies on a regular basis will help ensure that they are up-to-date and effective.

5. Secure your devices

Install anti-virus software, endpoint detection and response, firewalls, and email filters on all your devices connected to the corporate network and ensure that they are up to date.

Is your organisation adequately protected against social engineering attacks?

InfoTrust provides state-of-the-art IT security solutions to organisations large and small, Australia-wide. We combine next-generation security technologies with our expert security services (tailored to your organisation’s needs) in order to protect your data, your people and your assets from cybercrime. The InfoTrust experts are here to help – get in touch for more information.

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