As most sources say, ‘Social Engineering is the psychological manipulation of people into performing actions or divulging confidential information.’ Although Social Engineering is a term associated with social science but extensively used in computer and information security, since it is carefully fabricated to be deployed in data breaches. It is an activity highly manipulative and aimed to defraud. People are cleverly convinced to share their confidential data in a communication which is carefully organized.
Today, organizations do take steps towards securing their websites, apps, and databases but it is their employees who are at a greater risk of being exposed. So in a way, organizations still have a lot to think.
Access to company secrets and consumer database is no more a privilege for senior professionals but it requires extra vigilance and care on their part at all times.
Let’s understand why Social Engineering is widespread and easier to initiate
- Relatively Inexpensive & Hardly Any Expertise Required – A hacking expert or the services of a specialist is not required. The job doesn’t require exploiting any software bugs. Smart operators with a proven track record of conducting discovery meetings to identify a potential customer can help. They dig out customer information better than others, be it tracking his behavior on his favorite website, sending him custom emails, or offering him to assist without having him to say ‘NO’.
- ‘Trial and Error’ Works – The fundamental method of problem-solving works well for social engineers. For e.g. – The success rate of phishing attacks is only 3% of phishing emails but even that 3% is encouraging enough for rookie engineers.
- Easier to Establish Contact – Professional and personal information is easily accessible these days with the advent of networking platforms. In fact, most businesses list their employees’ details along with pictures, contact information and operating department on their websites, making it easier for anyone to contact them. Social engineers also misuse tools that are otherwise used to conduct background searches on suspicious people.
Countering Social Engineering:
To deal with it, organizations hire services of network security professionals. Security experts hold conversations and interviews in person, over the telephone, instant message, or email.
They even mock phishing schemes, attempting to get employees to reveal their usernames, passwords, account numbers, and other company information.
At the end of the security scan, they provide a report, listing all vulnerabilities. The report also serves as a guide to list all potential risks of data breach and cybercrime.
- Staying alert and conscious is the need of the hour.
- Always be discreet with your personal information, especially to strangers. No technological tool can control the mind.
- Mind training, not letting the mind and behavior to be susceptible to social engineering attacks, is the key to deter such practices.
- Most individuals, families, organizations and government establishments do not have information classification policy in place. Information classification policy defines the degree of sensitivity of the information. It is important to put this in place and vision. This acts as a reminder and helps to stay watchful during day-to-day public dealing and communication.
- Organizations can conduct regular counseling sessions for their employees, which act as a refresher on dealing with such instances. They can also seek the help of security professionals from time to time to make their employees aware of new techniques being introduced through criminals and keep your company safe from cybercrime.
Social engineering exploits the vulnerability of the natural tendency of humans to trust because it is more like an invasion of the mind, their methods varying with the kind of people executing these methods. This is why it is not about the technology which is great but more about the behavior of the victims. Humans falling prey to something which is avoidable to a great extent rightly defines it as a man-made threat.