IT Security VS. Social Engineering.
Fight against the manipulation of criminals to have a safer cyberspace. A IT security objective, learn how to protect yourself from these cyber dangers.
As society has changed and evolved, human beings have learned to give a subjective value to everything; creating a role that represents money or giving a value to the hours a person works. These are examples of how through agreements and norms, elements that are nothing by themselves acquire a real value for us as a society; in a similar way IT security works.
In the same way; the passage of time has made us give more and more importance to information. The insistence on keeping information secure led to the creation of encryption systems; which despite being obsolete today, we still retain the concern they created originally; how to prevent this information from falling into the wrong hands; since its use can make the difference between which nation wins a war, which politician will take power; or question the reputation and integrity of a large number of people.
Thanks to the advent of the internet, the way information is handled is much faster and has a wider scope. We have businesses that operate digitally and need huge databases to operate normally; however, there are groups of people who try to obtain information illegally, some forcing the system directly, and others taking advantage of the human factor to access it. In this post, we will explore how social engineering works and how cybersecurity is our greatest ally in safeguarding our information.
What is social engineering? An IT security perspective.
Social engineering is known as a manipulation technique; it seeks to exploit human error to gain access to sensitive or private information or valuables. In cybercrime, these scams aim to make unsuspecting users expose data, give access to restricted systems or spread malware infections within a system.
In the enterprise environment, social engineering represents a serious security problem. Unlike a direct attack on a system; criminals try to exploit the human factor to gain access to the system using various manipulation techniques. Thus, the behavior of employees has a great impact on the security of organizations; this is because they handle sensitive company information to work with; therefore, this makes workers the main target of these social engineers.
There are several ways of manipulation; from directly infiltrating the company by posing as a technician to steal its secrets; through the publication of fake newsletters with an official appearance so that employees send their data to the address indicated by the criminals; or by directly contacting part of the staff by email or social networks to manipulate them into revealing data of importance to the company.
What manipulation techniques do social engineers use? Learn how to detect scams.
Due to the trend of companies to operate digitally; the number of remote workers has increased; this in turn increases the possibility of a cyber-attack. As a result; social engineers rely on digital techniques to manipulate employees; and infect their remote devices to steal their information.
We will proceed to explain some social engineering techniques:
- Baiting: This is a form of social engineering that uses tempting advertisements that appear within websites as “bait”; this way they get people to enter and then lead them to malicious websites. The goal is to get users to enter the website and infect the device with malware, which then allows them to access the user’s information.
- Scareware: This technique seeks to saturate the victim with false threats and fictitious alarms to trick them into believing that their device is infected with malware. These threats often entice users to download fake protection software that creates a breach through which the attacker infiltrates; and steals the person’s information. Scareware is usually distributed through emails.
- Pretexting: This works as an elaborate scam. It seeks to deceive the person by impersonating co-workers, bank officials, police officers; or others who can obtain their information just by asking. “Necessary” questions are asked to confirm the user’s information and collect their data; all with the excuse of needing their information to perform a critical task, to gain access to their accounts.
- Phishing: This is one of the most used techniques within companies. Here the aim is to make the person enter a link that takes him to a page that perfectly emulates a page that the user knows; so that he enters his user name and password without knowing that he is giving them to a criminal. These links are usually found in e-mails where social engineers impersonate banks or other sites so that users enter the link they have left.
IT security: how to protect yourself from social engineering?
From a cybersecurity perspective; the most recommended thing to do is to be proactive with attackers. Instead of waiting to detect a breach to react to the attack; you should have an updated system with online software to prevent the attack from even reaching the system. Regarding social engineers, the most important thing is to know how to detect their ways of deception; so that we can protect our information. We will give you a few habits to show you how to defend yourself against these threats:
- Communication: Social media and e-mail are the most common means of attacks. It is better not to click on the links sent, but to type the URL directly in the search bar; looking for an official version and thus ensuring its legitimacy.
- Passwords: It is prudent that each password you use be unique and complex, with several characters and long. Use a password manager if possible.
- Online networks: It is important to protect home and work online networks; preventing strangers from connecting to the network. A guest network is also functional; as it keeps your main network free from any type of vulnerability.
- VPN: The use of VPN allows your data to be anonymized when surfing the web; in addition to hiding your IP address from cybercriminals on a website.
- Antivirus software: If social engineers manage to open breaches, your device will be infected with malware. Using quality antivirus software can contain the threat and prevent your device from suffering more damage than it could by being unprotected.
- Lock devices: Especially at work; avoid at all costs having your unsecured devices in public view. Keeping them locked and password-protected at all times is a priority.
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