Social engineering is widely recognized as one of the biggest threats to the online security of individuals. Since there are no safeguards against people who unwittingly divulge information, social engineering is a major security leak. Let us explore what social engineering is and how it can potentially compromise your online security.
The Threat of Social Engineering
What is Social Engineering All About?
Social engineering can loosely be defined as the process of tricking someone into revealing sensitive information about themselves. This information may then be used towards a number of purposes, most of which are intended for financial gains.
Attackers use a number of methods for social engineering. The worst part is that it’s almost impossible to prove that someone exploited a user through social engineering – even in the court. This is why victims often have no legal recourse if cybercriminals exploit them.
Why Has Social Engineering Become Popular?
Internet technology and the corresponding security are becoming increasingly more robust with each passing day. This means that hackers now have to make much more effort to bypass firewalls than what they had to earlier. So most of them resort to exploiting the ‘human error’ aspect of any internet security system.
Doing so becomes even easier because many people think that because they have antivirus and firewalls, their security is airtight. When in fact, every web users must stay vigilant and informed on the latest methods used by hackers and other cybercriminals. Let us tell you how you can remain cautious and prevent any such breaches of your private security.
How to Stay Vigilant Against Social Engineering Attacks Online?
Social engineering is most often perpetrated by attackers giving off a genuine vibe. Unfortunately, many people can be very easily trusting of strangers. Even if they are skeptical at first, they might quickly drop their defenses and reveal vital information about themselves. This is what most social engineering attacks count on for success.
The sad fact is that the online and social media life is full of dangers. That does not mean that every friend request you get is from a hacker. No, but it does warrant a cautious and measured approach. Even when you are simply browsing your email, you might find an appeal for funds from a third-party NGO.
Now, this might be a genuine appeal but there are set markers for ensuring that. In principle, no NGOs or other social betterment agencies ever ask for donations via email. If you receive such an email, then it is quite possibly a phishing scam.
What are Phishing Scams?
A phishing scam is where the hacker sends an email posing as a reliable authority. They may ask you for personal information and lay out certain conditions which make it necessary that you divulge them. However, you should not fall for such tricks. No banking institution would ever ask for your personal bank details via email.
A lot of people are now aware of how phishing scams work. So scammers have adopted a new technique. They provide an infected link in the email and prompt the user to open it. Once the user opens the link, a malicious code is directly injected into their device. This code then generates ransomware to harass and extort their victim.
Now, this might sound very dangerous. However, there is an easy way to spot a phishing email. Such emails generally contain very poor grammar. This is an easy way to spot them. Also, you might notice that there are no emblems or logos of the issuing authority like your bank. Even if there are, they somehow look off and have low resolution. If your email looks fishy, chances are that it’s just a phishing scam.
How to Stay Safe on Social Media?
Social media has changed our lives in many ways and not all of them are for the better. The pleasure of connecting with friends from all over the world comes with some dangers too. As you might know, having accounts on big websites doesn’t guarantee that your privacy will not be threatened.
Your personal information might be getting compromised without you knowing about it. Now, there are plenty of ways social engineering attacks can be perpetrated on social media. Here are some basic steps that you can take to stay safe.
Make sure your social media accounts remain private. This means that you should not give open permission to anybody to comment on them or access your personal media. Further, you must keep all your personal details as well as a list of friends private. This will ensure that your profile does not hand out any information about you for free.
Apps and Smartphones
Aside from emails and social media, there are some other areas where you must practice caution. Smartphones are an important part of our lives and one of the easiest ways our privacy can be breached.
There are many apps these days which ask for location tracking. This can be easily used against you by hackers. You need to be careful about whom you provide location tracking permission to. Ideally, you should use this feature as little as possible.
How to Ensure That You Stay Protected Online?
Social engineering attacks can come from anywhere you have not practiced smart safety measures. This can leave you open to attack and compromise your online security without you knowing. As such, you should be cautious about what you reveal about yourself online and who has access to it.
On the whole, you should keep a close watch on the information that is in circulation about you. You also need to ensure that only reliable person have access to your personal media like photos and videos. Finally, you should consider using a VPN to keep social engineering attacks at bay.
A VPN is a great way to ensure that none other than your intended parties receive your online communication. They offer robust encryption protocols that can keep you safe as can be when you are online. So consider investing in a paid and reliable VPN and ensure your online privacy remains intact.
Summer is an established author when it comes to everything tech. She frequently analyses various software and has reviewed many apps in the process. As a technology enthusiast, Summer has worked in many IT-related industries. She follows cybersecurity news closely and published articles related to the latest tech-trends from around the world.