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The rising number of cybercrime cases in recent years shows that online criminals will go to great lengths just to steal your data. For those currently running or moving the majority of their business operations online, knowing how to protect your information is a must.

When it comes to online safety, it is always best to take all the possible precautions, and that includes authentication and data management solutions. These could help deter cyberattacks, of which 98% rely on social engineering. But before you can learn how to avoid social engineering traps, you must first understand what they are and how to spot them.

What is a Social Engineering Attack?

Social engineering attacks are when a hacker uses psychological tricks or manipulation to gain valuable information. They often pretend to be unassuming or non-threatening, exploiting how their victims think and act, thus allowing them to manipulate their behavior effectively.

Types of Social Engineering Attacks

Social engineering attacks can happen at any time. Here are some common social engineering attacks businesses can experience:

  • Phishing: This is the most common type of social engineering attack because hackers can easily steal information and credentials through human error. These scams are usually conducted by sending emails with malware or suspicious links attached. Types of phishing include spear phishing, pharming, and smishing.
  • Baiting: Another tactic is enticing the victim into compromising their security to receive an offer in return. These can be presented as a free giveaway in exchange for your information.
  • Pretexting: This type of exchange is a bit more complex than the previous ones because the hacker will need to gain your trust first. Often, infiltrators will come up with an elaborate backstory to seem more trustworthy.
  • Honey trap: This type of scam involves hackers pretending to be interested in you, either romantically or sexually. Once they have gotten you to open up to them, they start persuading you into giving them valuable information or money.
  • Scareware: This type of attack uses risky software that typically comes from a pop-up and causes shock, anxiety, or the perception of threat to scare victims. These notifications alert you that your security software has expired and that you can renew it by clicking a malicious link. Hackers use this to trick you into buying useless products or downloading files full of viruses. It is also a common tactic for ransomware.
  • Tailgating: Tailgating is an old tactic that attackers use to physically get into restricted areas. They will follow closely behind you into an unauthorized location and pretend to have misplaced their company ID or any equivalent identification.
  • Watering Hole: Attackers use this method to infect websites that you frequently visit. By gaining access to those, they can make a connection to your traffic and infiltrate your system.
  • SIM Swapping: SIM swapping allows a hacker to take control of a victim’s phone number by collecting data through social media, phishing, or other ways. Pretexting is also a common tactic. They then trick the carrier into transferring the number to the hacker’s mobile phone, thereby getting access to incoming calls, texts, and access codes or OTPs. The most recent high-profile SIM swapping case happened to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. The hacker eventually gained access to his Twitter account.

8 Ways Bankers Can Avoid Social Engineering Attacks

Spotting suspicious activity isn’t always as simple as you’d hope, but there are steps you can take to avoid falling victim to hackers and their attacks.

1: Verify the sender before opening or downloading attachments

Never be too quick to open attached files or links in an email or message. Before you click anything, ensure that the address that it came from is safe and trusted.

2: Always check and verify the source

If you receive a message that is confusing, or an answer to a question you didn’t ask, verify the source in a different communication channel than you received it. Call, physically walk over, or message via a company chat program to confirm that your coworker or boss truly sent a message.

3: Don’t let strangers use company-issued devices

Criminals will take every opportunity to exploit human behavior to get their hands on valuable data, and one of the best ways to prevent this is by not handing it to them directly through your company devices. Never let anyone –most especially strangers—have access to these devices not for any reason.

4: Use multi-factor authentication

Multi-factor authentication can make it nearly impossible for attackers to access your data if they come from a remote location. Without going through a series of identity authentication processes, they cannot gain access to your data. While many social engineering attacks may successfully convince you to share one credential, it is unusual to share multiple, and impossible to share your biometrics.

5: Ignore and block requests for your credentials

Major companies and clients will never ask for your credentials under any circumstances. If you encounter such a message, it is best to block that contact and report it to your IT department. If shared credentials are necessary for work applications, an encrypted password manager can be a secure way to accommodate that need.

6: Create a filter to remove spam automatically

If you often receive emails or messages from suspicious accounts, you can create a filter in your inbox to automatically delete these messages. This can help you avoid suspicious links and malware that can make your network vulnerable.

7: Block suspicious websites from your network

A quick way to prevent social engineering attacks is by blocking access to their domains on your network via web content filtering. Through this, you and other people in your handling personnel don’t accidentally access the site and download malicious files.

8: Always report suspicious emails and activity

If you come across any suspicious accounts or domains, it is always best to report these right away. This will alert others and minimize damages that may occur.

Be Aware and Stay Alert

Falling for social engineering attacks can lead to disastrous consequences for an organization that handles finances and sensitive data. Therefore, it is vital to gain awareness of these events so that you can take preventative measures against them.

Through our company’s identity authentication solutions, you can keep your data safe at all times. For more information, contact the Q5id team of experts today.


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