3 Tips to Prevent Social Engineering Attacks

Social engineering attacks exploit human interaction and emotions to manipulate targets. They involve the victim being deceived into revealing sensitive information or compromising security. A staggering 74% of data breaches are the result of human error, which includes falling victim to social engineering.

Typically, a social engineering attack involves several stages. The perpetrator first investigates the potential victim, gathering details to circumvent security measures or extract information. Then, the attacker builds rapport with the target before coercing them into disclosing sensitive information or violating security protocols.

This blog looks at three techniques to prevent social engineering.

Verify the source

When you receive an email, an SMS or a phone call from an unfamiliar source, put the contents of the message and/or the senders address into a search engine. If the sender is associated with a recognised social engineering scheme, they might have been flagged previously. Even if they appear authentic, we advise verifying the details, as the email address or phone number could be slightly altered from the genuine source, potentially linking to an unsafe website.

This approach may not always be effective if the phone number has been manipulated as part of the attack. Should a web search yield no suspicious results, another preventive measure is to directly reach out to the organisation purportedly contacting you through the contact details on their official website.

Secure devices

Enhance your device security to reduce the impact of successful attacks. Apply the following universal measures across smartphones, home networks and business systems.

Ensure you have up-to-date anti-malware and antivirus software. Regularly update software and firmware, prioritising security patches.

Avoid running devices in administrative modes to limit unauthorised system reconfiguration or software installations. Use unique passwords for each account and implement two-factor authentication for critical accounts. Promptly change compromised passwords.

It also helps to stay informed about evolving cyber security risks, as it is not uncommon for a vulnerability to be reported by a news outlet before the organisation in question notifies its users or patches the issue.

If it sounds too good to be true…

…then it probably is. Be wary of tempting offers – think twice before accepting them as fact. Googling the topic can help you quickly determine whether you’re dealing with a legitimate offer or a scam.

Basic critical thinking skills are one of the best ways to prevent a social engineering attack from harming you.

Be wary of offers that tout lavish rewards in exchange for a seemingly small fee. There are many cases of scammers using celebrity personas to dupe victims into paying small sums of money or crypto currency with the promise of a larger sum in return.

If the solicitation seems to come from someone you know, ask yourself, “Would they really ask me for information in this way?”

If you want to learn more about how your organisation can protect against social engineering, then check out our more in-depth blog post on this.

Get started with elearning solutions

Ensuring information security is a collective responsibility and integrating security measures into the operational procedures of the entire workforce are crucial to thwart social engineering attempts.

Conducting routine staff awareness training to disrupt ingrained behaviours and enhance vigilance can significantly diminish the risk of attacks on your organisation.

GRC eLearning offers multiple training programmes aimed at raising staff awareness about the threat of social engineering attacks.

For organisations seeking to bolster their ability to identify social engineering tactics, our Phishing Staff Awareness E-learning Course is an ideal starting point.

This course is regularly updated with the latest strategies employed by cyber criminals and provides guidance on recognising scam indicators.

Join us today to fortify your defences against social engineering threats.