In many aspects, the internet is a reflection of the real world. One way the internet mirrors the real world is that there are good and bad actors on the internet. Just like there are criminals in the real world, there is also a score of cybercriminals online.
According to FBI reports, there were over 1300 complaints of cybercrime per day reported in 2019, and they robbed businesses and individuals of billions of dollars. Hackers have become savvier with time. Through social engineering, scammers get victims to divulge their personal information voluntarily; they use the information to wreak havoc in their victims’ lives. Continue reading to learn how you can prevent yourself from becoming a victim of social engineering.
The most effective way to get someone’s sensitive information is to get them to turn it over willingly, which is what social engineering attacks are all about. If a hacker is the equivalent of a bank robber, a social engineer is the equivalent of a con artist.
Social engineers come under the guise of being trustworthy service providers, spiritual or financial advisors, online love interests, or even tax adjusters. Their main goal is to gain your confidence so they can bait you into giving them sensitive information they can use to hurt you or even the company you work for. Social engineering is becoming more prevalent every year in the United States, so it’s imperative to know what to look for to protect yourself, your family, and your business.
Have you ever gotten an email from a well-known, trusted business like Walmart or Amazon declaring that you’ve won cash or a shopping spree? Usually, these emails tell you that all you have to do to claim your prize is click on the link in the email and visit the lender’s website, and they lead you on a trail to nowhere. Well, at least the trail leads nowhere for you, but for hackers, the trail leads to your confidential information like your passwords and social security number. These social engineering attacks are known as spear phishing, becoming increasingly popular in the U.S.
What makes spear-phishing attacks so effective is that social engineers pretend to represent a company you already know and trust, like your insurance company or bank. However, the best way to spot a spear phishing attempt is to pay close attention to the email address. If you open the email and notice the email address comes from an address other than the company being represented, it’s a fraudulent account.
Another thing to watch out for is fake websites. Scammers set up fake websites pretending to be small businesses to get you to make purchases with your credit card. They exploit your vulnerability by pretending to offer a product or service you’re interested in, and then fraudsters steal your credit card information and rob you blind.
Some websites will even offer fake promotions like 50% off on blouses for women and unbelievable deals like pennies on the dollar for the hottest new arrivals. To prevent falling for a fake site, always look for customer reviews online before buying from a site you’ve never visited or heard of before.
Other Social Engineering Techniques
Social engineering is all about psychological manipulation and comes in many forms. Scammers even target people at work, and the type of attack varies based on what you do professionally. Often, hackers will disguise themselves as computer technicians trying to help you optimize the cybersecurity for your small business to get you to let them in through your network or server’s front door.
You’ve probably encountered more social engineering schemes than you realize, as they come in the form of malicious websites, phone calls, and emails from a trusted source. For your own protection, never give anyone your passwords or social security number online, and never answer questions from strangers that require you to divulge personal information. And remember‚Äîif something seems too good, it probably is.