Social engineering testing

No matter how much money and effort you put into your company’s cybersecurity defenses, your employees will always be the biggest vulnerability. Even the most elaborate firewalls and cybersecurity systems can be easily circumvented by hackers who use social engineering, or as it’s often called “people hacking”.

What is social engineering?

When people think about cybercriminals, their mind immediately goes to hackers who examine networks and software for vulnerabilities that they can exploit. While this type of cybersecurity attacks does exist, in recent years, social engineering has become far more popular, becoming the cause of the majority of security breaches. The term ‘social engineering’ refers to a tactic where cybercriminals trick people, usually employees at a company, into supplying them with access information, passwords or confidential data often without realizing it. Cybercriminals usually approach potential targets by email, phone or even in person.

How to prevent social engineering?

The only way to prevent successful social engineering attempts on your employees is to educate them on social engineering methods and tricks that cybercriminals may use and test your employees’ awareness and knowledge frequently. If you are preparing to conduct social engineering testing for the first time, here is what you need to know about preparation:

How to get ready for social engineering testing?

The key to successful social engineering testing is to keep it a secret. If several of your employees know about an upcoming social engineering test, the information can quickly spread to all your staff, putting them on high alert and rendering the test useless because the information it will give you won’t be accurate. Surely, a few people will have to know about the testing to make it possible, but it’s important to inform only trusted people who absolutely have to know about the testing.

You also need to prepare a list of the data and assets that are most important to your company, as this will help the social engineering team to identify the main objectives for social engineering testing and come up with the most effective strategy for the ‘attack’. It’s also a good idea to provide a list of contact information for the employees who will be tested. Surely, the testing team can find this information on their own but it will be cheaper and faster for you to provide it yourself.

Finally, if your company has been a victim of a hacker attack in the past, you should provide information about it to the testing team along with a list of measures you’ve taken to prevent the same from happening in the future. Similarly, if there are some types of attacks that are common in your industry or attacks that you’re especially worried about, inform the social engineering testing team about it so the testing can be tailored to your needs.

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    Vitaly is a principal consultant at Hackcontrol as wall as aa business and IT thought leader. He has over 15 years of experience in consulting, account management and is a specialist in cybersecurity.