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The nature of hacking is to take advantage of weak points and exploit them for some kind of profit. This is usually seen in flaws or vulnerabilities found within the code of a program or operating system, but these flaws can be psychological, too. Hackers are increasingly taking advantage of a concept known as “social engineering” to fool users into handing over sensitive information that can be used against them.
Social engineering hacks are performed against unsuspecting individuals who might be privy to sensitive information within a corporation. These people often have less technical skills and might be more vulnerable to exploitation than others. These attacks often seek out information like passwords, usernames, dates of birth, and other sensitive credentials. The more skilled social engineering hacker can replicate sites to infect systems with malware, or even initiate infected downloads.
The most notorious social engineering method of hacking is called phishing, when emails are sent to a user under the guise of a seemingly harmless institution, like a bank. These messages usually ask the victim to confirm login credentials and other information in a manner that looks legitimate.
Spear phishing attacks are some of the most dangerous hacks out there. These types of phishing threats target specific users with personalized messages that are designed to coerce them into giving up personal or financial information. There have even been accounts reported of hackers posing as the media in order to get access to secure information.
According to HowToGeek.com, this method isn’t limited to being used remotely. Social engineering hackers can also get up close and personal with their attempts:
An attacker could walk into a business, inform the secretary that they’re a repair person, new employee, or fire inspector in an authoritative and convincing tone, and then roam the halls and potentially steal confidential data or plant bugs to perform corporate espionage. This trick depends on the attacker presenting themselves as someone they’re not. If a secretary, doorman, or whoever else is in charge doesn’t ask too many questions or look too closely, the trick will be successful.
How Can You Protect Yourself?
Ultimately, it comes down to educating yourself and your staff on how to identify a social engineering hack from the real deal. Here’s how you can minimize your chances of playing into the hands of a phishing scam.
When it comes down to it, the only way to maximize your business’s security from phishing attacks is to make sure your team knows how to identify and handle them. For more information on how to keep yourself safe from all manners of threats, give NTConnections a call at (703) 288-9767.