5 Social Engineering Attacks That Can Destroy Your Business

Social Engineering Attacks

There is a myriad of different types of ransomware attacks that can cripple businesses today. But social engineering has to be one of the most sinister among them all. Statistics show that 33% of all data breaches that take place within a business are socially engineered. While 43% of all cyberattacks tend to target small businesses. 

If you’re just starting out, a social engineering cyber attack can be absolutely devastating for your progress. That’s why it’s so important to have knowledge on your side and know your weak points when it comes to social engineering attacks. 

This blog highlights the most common ways your business can be targeted. 

What Are Social Engineering Attacks, Anyway?

Social engineering is a tactic that’s leveraged by hackers based on the manipulation of a person or a number of people. The point of this is to gain access to a corporate system and its private information. 

The overall premise of social engineering is that it plays on our human nature to trust. For cybercriminals, social engineering is one of the easiest ways to hack into a corporate database and wreak havoc. 

Most of the time, social engineering attacks involve email, social media, phone calls, impersonation, and more. The end goal is to ”trick” employees to offer up sensitive information in order to hack into a corporate system. 

So, how do you protect yourself? A good place to start is with a solid IT foundation and good IT management, offered by an outsourced professional such as Bits Technology Group — visit their homepage for more. 

What are the most common types of social engineering attacks you should be aware of? Let’s dive in: 

1. Tailgating or Piggybacking 

This type of attack is also well-known as piggybacking. Tailgating is when a hacker follows or piggybacks on an authenticated employee into a restricted area of your business. Usually, this type of attack physically takes place on your premises. 

One of the most common ways a hacker may gain access is by impersonating a delivery driver, or salesperson. Another popular means of tailgating is to strike up a conversation, become familiar with an employee, then slip past the front desk. 

In smaller corporate settings, tailgating is common. With larger corporate companies it’s not as popular as most employees use keycards to access restricted areas. Hackers are looking for access to your servers or data rooms, so make sure these areas are always well protected. 

2. Information Exchange or Quid Pro Quo

This social engineering tactic is based on the premise of an exchange between two parties — most of the time, this exchange is based on sensitive information. The benefit of this type of exchange is in the form of a service.

For example, a hacker poses as someone else and then asks for your information in exchange for helping you with a service. 

One of the most common forms of quid pro quo social engineering is the impersonation of employees at the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA). Hackers are looking for your personal information, namely your social security number in order to commit identity theft. 

In other cases, fraudsters have established fake SSA websites and pose as employees who offer a service to assist with social security card applications. Instead of actually helping you, they steal your information. 

It’s crucial that all employees are aware of these common scams that tend to trip up far too many people. 

3. Phishing

This is probably the most well-known form of social engineering. Most employees may be well aware of phishing scams, but today, they can look very legitimate today and can trap even the savviest employee. 

Phishing scams have three key objectives. The first is to obtain personal information, such as addresses and social security numbers. The second is to lead users to phishing websites, and the third is to use fear, or a sense of urgency to prompt users to make a quick and often rash response. 

Most phishing attacks use phishing emails to entice end-users. While most people already know what to look for in a phishing email, they can still look pretty legit. 

It’s important that employees never click on any links in suspicious-looking emails as this is how hackers re-direct you to phishing websites to steal your personal information. 

4. Pretexting

The goal of this social engineering tactic is to create an enticing pretext for the end-user. In reality, it’s a fake scenario where a hacker is posing as someone else, with the intention of stealing personal information. They will then use this information to hack into your business systems, if possible. 

During a pretexting attack, a fraudster will pose as someone who needs a few extra pieces of information in order to confirm your identity. For example, they may call as a ”bank employee” and need you to confirm your information because of ”suspicious activity on your card”. 

They then use this data to stage secondary attacks on your business. Pretexting is dangerous because fraudsters use a fake scenario to build a sense of trust in your employees. They play on human vulnerability. 

In some cases, a fraudster may also pose or impersonate an IT professional, HR personnel, or someone in financial development in order to get onto your business premises. This allows them to target high-level executives which could have disastrous business implications. 

5. Baiting

Baiting is very similar to phishing attacks. The only difference is the promise of goods, in exchange for sensitive information — hence the term ”baiting”.

The premise of this attack is to entice your employees to offer up credentials or login information for free things like music, movie downloads, etc.

Baiting is also used to exploit our curiosity through the use of physical media, such as CDs or USBs. If your business is ever sent any of these items and they’re unmarked or looks suspicious, do not insert them into your computer(s)!  

What’s the Buzz in Business, Tech, Sports, and Travel? 

Social engineering attacks take place across the globe on a daily basis. While some are not as easy to recognize, others should be obvious if you and your employees know what to be aware of. 

Keep abreast of the latest buzz in technology and business in order to hone your knowledge on what to look out for in terms of cybersecurity. Explore the rest of this site for your daily updates… 

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About the Author: Andrea Parker

Andrea Parker is a reporter for Zobuz. She previously worked at Huffington Post and Vanity Fair. Andrea is based in NYC and covers issues affecting her city. In addition to her severe coffee addiction, she's a Netflix enthusiast, a red wine drinker, and a voracious reader.