Social engineering is one of the most common tactics hackers use to steal your data or gain access to confidential information. Social engineering takes many forms, but in every scenario, perpetrators exploit the main weakness of any security system – humans and their trusting nature.
What is social engineering?
Social engineering is also often referred to as ‘people hacking’, it’s a group of methods and techniques cybercriminals use to get access to passwords, personal information or private company data, infect networks and devices with malware or cause damage to a company’s reputation. Social engineering techniques can be employed via email, mail, by phone and even in person and the perpetrator can pose as a current or former employee of the company, a vendor, client, government agency representative or even your boss. If you are a specific target, criminals can even do extensive research into your personal life and social media accounts to make their fraud attempts more convincing.
What do effective social engineering protection strategies have in common?
Proactive employee training in social engineering methods
You can’t rely on technology alone when trying to protect your business and its employees from social engineering attempts by cybercriminals. The cornerstone of effective social engineering and phishing protection is training and awareness – the more your employees know about different types of social engineering and the more training they receive in recognizing phishing attempts, the more protected your company is. It’s also important to identify and train employees who are complacent and don’t believe they can be a target of social engineering.
Focus on successes rather than failures during anti-phishing training
Positive reinforcement is one of the best tools when it comes to motivating your employees and it can work wonders in cybersecurity and social engineering training. Publicly praising an employee who didn’t fall for a social engineering attempt and involved your IT department immediately will provide a much better boost to morale and motivation in the company than reprimanding a person who didn’t pass their social engineering training. This way people will feel encouraged to alert IT and security specialists every time they are suspicious instead of worrying about coming across as the boy who cried wolf. However, don’t let your employees relax and feel like they can never be fooled by a phishing attempt – increase the difficulty of your social engineering simulations and vary the scenarios to keep everyone at the top of their anti-phishing game.