Social Engineering: The greatest Magic Trick to Hack Your Everything
Think like a hacker if you want to c̶a̶t̶c̶h̶ ̶o̶n̶e̶ protect yourself
Have you been to a magic show before? or watched online?
If yes, you may have often found yourself getting tricked by some diversion. But let me give you an example of diversion. We always put our attention to movement. So, whenever a magician makes you focus on his one constantly waving hand, he commits the main magic part with his other one.
Getting tricked in a magic show is okay, as it is harmless. But it is not okay to get tricked by some people who want to access your personal or secret information.
We all have experienced or fallen victim to some scamming or social engineering. Somewhere I read that amateur hackers hack systems and expert hackers hack people.
Social engineering is a cyber attack that manipulates human behavior to access sensitive information or systems. These attacks can take many forms, from phishing emails to phone scams, and can have serious consequences for individuals and organizations alike.
Social engineering actually existed long before computer systems were developed for the first time. It takes advantage of people’s weakness toward diversion.
Types of Social Engineering Methods:
- Phishing: This is the most common type of social engineering attack. It involves sending fraudulent emails or messages that appear to be from a trusted source to trick users into revealing sensitive information or clicking on malicious links.
- Pretexting: This involves creating a false pretext to gain access to information. For example, an attacker might pose as an IT support technician and ask for login credentials to fix a supposed technical issue, which is, in fact, not the case.
- Baiting: This involves offering something desirable in exchange for information. For example, an attacker might leave a USB drive containing malware in a public place, hoping that someone will pick it up and plug it into their computer.
- Quid Pro Quo: This involves offering something in exchange for information. For example, an attacker might offer free software or other incentives in exchange for login credentials.
- Tailgating: This involves following someone into a secure area without proper authorization. For example, an attacker might wait outside a secure building and then follow an employee inside when they use their access card to open the door.
- Reverse Social Engineering: This involves convincing someone to help you gain access to a system or information by posing as someone who needs help. For example, an attacker might pose as an IT support technician and ask for login credentials to fix a supposed technical issue, which is, again, not the case.
- Watering Hole Attacks: This involves compromising a website known to be frequented by the target audience to deliver malware or other malicious content. For example, an attacker might compromise a popular news website and use it to deliver malware to visitors.
- Spear Phishing: This is a targeted form of phishing tailored specifically to the victim’s interests or job role. For example, an attacker might send a phishing email that appears to be from the victim’s boss or colleague to trick them into revealing sensitive information.
It’s important to note that social engineering attacks can take many different forms and can be highly customized based on the target audience and the attacker's goals.
By staying informed about these attacks and protecting against them, individuals and organizations can reduce their risk of falling victim to social engineering attacks.
To protect against social engineering attacks, individuals and organizations must be vigilant and take steps to educate themselves about these types of attacks.
At a personal level, we can look at what scamming techniques are happening to others and learn from them. We need to verify everything before we believe.
I am adding a few examples that we can do at our personal level:
- Be wary of unsolicited emails or phone calls from people you don’t know. Scammers often use these tactics to gain your trust and steal your information.
- Verify the identity of anyone who contacts you requesting sensitive information. Always ask for their full name, job title, and contact details before sharing any information.
- Never give out personal information, such as your social security number or banking details, unless you know the request's legitimacy.
- Use strong passwords and enable two-factor authentication wherever possible. This helps to prevent hackers from gaining access to your accounts.
- Install and update anti-virus software to protect your devices from malware and viruses.
- Be cautious when clicking on links or downloading attachments from unknown sources. These could be phishing scams that are designed to steal your information.
- Avoid public Wi-Fi networks for sensitive activities such as online banking or shopping. These networks are often insecure and can be easily hacked.
- Check your credit report regularly to monitor for any fraudulent activity. This will allow you to catch any suspicious activity early on.
- Educate yourself on the latest scams and techniques used by fraudsters. Stay up-to-date on the latest trends and tactics used to avoid falling victim.
- Trust your instincts. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Do not proceed with the request or transaction if you have doubts or concerns.
Cyber Security Awareness and Best Practices at Personal Level
Cyber security threats are on the rise, and everyone is vulnerable to attacks. Whether you are an individual, a…
For organizations, protection includes training employees to recognize and report suspicious activity, implementing strong password policies, using multi-factor authentication to protect sensitive accounts, keeping software up-to-date with the latest security patches, and using anti-virus software to detect and prevent malware infections.
Social engineering attacks are a serious threat to individuals and organizations alike. By understanding the different types of social engineering methods, their implications and consequences, and taking steps to protect against them, we can reduce our risk of falling victim to these types of attacks.
Just imagine, even scammers know you might not fall victim to their trap. Maybe 3/4 out of 100 people fall victim to their traps, and that’s more than enough for them.
Scammers and attackers are always out there trying to exploit us for their own advantage. Let’s be aware and spread awareness to others.
If you want to find out how attackers collect information, you can take a look at one of my publications. I have co-authored a paper entitled “Survey and taxonomy of adversarial reconnaissance techniques,” discussing how attackers collect information about people and systems. You can get access to the preprint of the paper in Arxiv.