Social engineering can allow a cybercriminal to access networks without being hampered by the security solutions that a business has in place. Through the manipulation of the human element of a company, its critical resources are exposed. In order to protect your business against the threat of a social engineer, there has to be an overall awareness in your company culture.
Why Social Engineering Works One of the main reasons that social engineering can be such an effective tactic for cybercriminals is because, rather than telling the target what they want to hear, the target is told what they expect to hear. By coming forward under the guise of someone who should be coming forward, the cybercriminal is able to extract information from unwitting staff members, adding to their intel through intensive online research.
These are the key factors that allow these kinds of attacks to be as successful as they are. The methods used by social engineers aren’t the kind that immediately come to mind when one thinks about cyberattacks. Since the attack doesn’t typically resemble more well-known threats like ransomware, these attacks are often able to infiltrate their target without any suspicion. Additionally, there is an excess of information available online, known as open-source intelligence, that provides the social engineer with the knowledge they need to craft their approach.
This open-source intelligence can come from a variety of places, making the social engineer’s job that much easier. There is plenty of information readily available on the Internet, all it takes is looking in the right place.
Sample Information While it’s no secret that there is a ton of information online, the true scope of what is available can be alarming when all laid out. The following information can all be found if one knows where to look, and is by no means a comprehensive list of what is there:
Technological Details Considering how valuable a cybercriminal would find the details of what technology is used in a business, these details are remarkably easy for cybercriminals to find. Companies will often show their hand in online job postings, identifying the hardware and software that they use in order to find someone with the experience. This not only ensures that qualified applicants send in their resumes, it also allows cybercriminals to send in the exploits needed to take the company down. Social media posts can also share this information--the wrong picture could give access to networking hardware and other critical and sensitive data.
Employee Data On the topic of social media, sensitive company information can easily leak through oversharing. Employee activities that are shared or tweeted can provide a cybercriminal with crucial insights. Images can create an even bigger problem. If not scrutinized before posting, you can inadvertently display key details, from the data on the screens to the model of the computer that holds the data.
Furthermore, employees using social media carelessly can deliver more invaluable data for a cybercriminal to leverage. Discussing work schedules or even sharing specifics of work experience can potentially put your business at risk.
External Companies Unfortunately, social engineering attacks can leverage data that you have minimal control over against your business as well, as other companies and vendors you do business with may share their experience with you as evidence of their value. Furthermore, if your janitorial services and trash pickup providers aren’t secure, your data could be stolen after it has left your property.
So while it is absolutely critical to leverage cyber protections for your data’s security, including solutions like firewalls and authentication measures, your employees also need to have their eyes peeled for the threat of social engineering. Every business needs to have a plan to avoid and mitigate the threat of social engineering.