How do you stay safe on social media as you prevent phishing & social engineering attacks from affecting you or someone close to you?
Well, there several preventive measures that you can put in place to exactly do that. Stay put to learn some of the best prevention steps you can take in a wake of any social media attack.
As you already know, with the evolution of technology, there have been many innovative gadgets easing our routine chores. However, with every new device, there are a thousand latest ways of misusing them for scams and frauds. Social media has become the hub of scams these days from the matter of job opportunities leading to online shopping.
Social engineering attacks are one of the leading cyber crimes, which is at peak nowadays. These attacks have stretched their legs so much with the help of emerging technology.
This helps attackers to get the adverse benefit out of people through social platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, or Twitter. In this article, I’ll let you know about social engineering with the scams and attacks attached to it.
What is Social Engineering?
The term used for a broader range of malicious activities which are often achieved by human communication is known as Social Engineering.
Major psychological aspects play a vital role in accomplishing these frauds. And especially, by tricking users for revealing confidential information or making some common security mistakes.
As such, this includes social media platforms, including Email accounts, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc. So, what part does social engineering psychology play?
Perse, these social engineering attacks usually include different forms of psychological manipulation. And then fooling random employees and users. And this makes them reveal sensitive data to the social attacker.
A spam email having a file or a link present asking you to click it are more likely meant for the fraud.
More often, people become the victim of social engineering commonly through verbal communication. Or even through email invoking the fear and panic element in the victim.
Under the fear or panic, the user reveals the information without realizing the consequences. Not forgetting, there is a bit of human interaction involved in any phishing & social engineering attacks. And it isn’t easy to prevent them.
How do Social Engineering Attacks occur?
In reality, a social engineering attack often occurs in one of the different steps according to the types.
The initial task of the perp is to gather all the required information about the victim that is needed to cover with the attacks. This includes weak security protocols, potential entry points, the flaw in the programming, etc.
Then thereafter, the attacker tries to earn the trust of the victim by providing a piece of tempting information to the victim. And in such cases, this leads to breaking the general security practice. That in mind, below are some of the major social engineering attacks:
The major form of social engineering where the perps focus on drafting an authentic-looking pretext. This helps in creating a fabricated scenario in front of the victim so that their personal information can be stolen easily.
Generally, in pretexting attacks, the scammers require certain information bits from their victim so that they can prove the victim’s identity. This stolen data benefits a lot to the perps which they can use to fabricate major attacks or commit identity theft.
Sometimes, the modern perps force their victim into doing things that can affect the stability of any organization by giving them the company’s physical weakness.
Like the perp disguise himself as the auditor of external IT services auditor, this way he’ll get all the psychical flaws of security protocol through which he could easily enter the premises.
Tailgating is another type of social engineering attack. It is also known as piggybacking, referring to saving confidential information to be used later.
This attack works when a person follows an unauthentic employee without any verification into a prohibited area. The attacker has millions of ways for disguising himself for the showdown. He could be a security guard or a parcel delivery guy waiting outside your building.
When the employee with security approval unlocks the door, the attacker hides under heavyweight, asking an employee to hold the door having a clear entry into the building.
This attacking method isn’t highly modernized, especially in the company which uses keycards to open the door. But, the attacker can crack up any topic with the employee of a midsize business showing reliability on the front desk.
Baiting is also similar to other hideous social engineering attacks. But, the main thing that differentiates it among others is the enticing element which the attacker adds for tempting victims for falling into his trap.
Sometimes, baiters use different social media platforms to offer free downloads or free exclusive movies. This way, the victim can easily hand-in his most precious information to them, including his login credentials.
Online schemes aren’t only the major spot for the baiting attacks. They often target the hidden human wishes by using physical media as well.
Phishing is one of the most dangerous yet common social engineering tactics, which is known for breaching almost 91% of your data. They can be changed from the latest happenings, disasters, or trends.
The amount of data extracted through phishing is so high that the people have considered it as the most useful mode of social engineering through social media.
Scams executed through Phishing on Social Media
Phishing is a form of social engineering. Phishing attacks use email or malicious web sites to solicit personal, often financial, information.
Attackers may send email seemingly from a reputable credit card company or financial institution that requests account information, often suggesting that there is a problem.
Eventually, the following are some of the interesting and productive scams executed through phishing on social media:
1. Bank credential scam:
This is the most common type of scam where you’ve been given a fake link to your Gmail or Hotmail account, redirecting to your bank’s phony website.
This way, the attackers can trick you into writing your bank ID and password.
2. Important fax Gmail/Fb scam:
Another noticeable scam that most people usually fall into is fake notice. This can be done through Facebook or email, giving you a file entitled to your most important fax, which can lead to major system damage.
This is a bit common in renowned companies using fax machines very frequently. These companies can either be document management heavily such as title, document management firms, financial guides, or insurance companies.
3. Phony WhatsApp shopping voucher scam:
A common WhatsApp scam is the announcement by phony surprise is waiting for you when you send a particular link to 30 other people.
The same announcement was used with different variations. It can either be a phishing message asking you to send the link to people for a free McDonald’s meal. This scam worked when the user clicked on the link provided in the message.
After that, it was redirecting to the browser page saying it needs to be updated. When you click on the update button, the Trojan would be released among your PC’s your malware family.
4. Fake photo/news link scam on Facebook:
You may have seen the link with captions, something like Selena Gomez got bulky again, click the link to see how the virus slowly blackens your PC.
Any latest trend generally follows these tactics. You will receive a fake Facebook message asking you to click on the link revealing something about the most exciting news in the current situation.
Phishing & Social Engineering Attacks Preventive Measures
Are you a trusting person? There are numerous ways of preventing yourself from Social Engineering and Phishing on Social Media.
When dealing with people you don’t know, don’t give them sensitive information unless you’re sure who they are, and can prove that they are who they say they are.
You’ll want to ask yourself if they should have access to the information.
As I have mentioned, there are many different ways of preventing your system and your life from different scams hovering through all the social platforms.
Some of attacks originating through social engineering, especially phishing can be prevented if you;
1. Decline any call asking your confidential ID or passwords
If you find an email or a message in any of your social media accounts asking you for your sensitive information, then instantly delete that request.
This sensitive information could either be your bank account number, personal identification number, ATM pin, password, etc.
It isn’t legal to ask anybody for such personal information through email. If somebody is asking you for this, then it probably is a scam.
2. Reject any random help or asking for help online
Sometimes, we come across social engineering attackers disguising themselves into someone asking for help. This could either be done the other way where the person is offering you help for no reason such as tech support, customer services, etc.
In both situations, you should instantly decline the choice. You have to remember that if you haven’t asked for help, then you shouldn’t be getting any.
Thus it automatically makes this offer a scam. It is essential to do your research perfectly about the sender before attempting to respond.
3. Never download the unknown files
For preventing yourself from any social engineering attacks. Avoid downloading random files when you aren’t aware of the sender or aren’t expecting any file from your known sender.
Your gut is the king, and it is the most visible alarm so you should try to trust it in this matter. You don’t just open a mail when you don’t know the sender.
Similarly, you can not just download the file saying “urgent” without anyone recognizable on the sending end.
4. Random offers or rewards are scams.
The most important thing that can save your life is that any random offer or prize given to you even in the most official manner can be fake.
We are living in the digital era. However, you can still receive emails saying that you’ve been granted $100,000 for eating a sub.
If someone promises you something extremely valuable, then the chances can result in the scam.
5. Make sure that your spam sensitivity is maxed.
The first thing to completely avoid the phishing links or messages is to adjust the sensitivity of your spam filters which should be max.
Regardless of the email software, the spam filters are always present. All you have to do is check the settings and keep it higher for avoiding any scam messages sliding into your inbox.
You have to make sure to go through them from time to time as there is a possibility that your private or important messages are trapped there.
6. Protect your devices
One of the essential aspects not only to avoid online scams but also to prevent any system mishap is to secure your devices.
You can easily install, update, or maintain your firewalls, email filter, antivirus software regularly. Turn on the automatic update and access only the protected website.
You can only try using a VPN privately using the web completely avoiding any frauds or scams.
7. Avoid clicking on any link, Think first.
Another important factor to consider for preventing any kind of social engineering attacks is to think before clicking anything. It could be a photo, link, or any file.
The major strong point of the attacker lies within the sense of urgency, making you act faster without realizing it as a scam. Whenever you are sensing urgency after reading any random message, then make sure you think a lot before opening that particular link or file.
Ensure the credibility of the sender, specifically after receiving any suspicious emails. It is better to think for a minute than to regret for the rest of your life.
8. Keep your research strong.
You have to be careful about keeping a strong source for searching. The website from which you search must be authentic with a certified license.
They must have an authentic redirection, that’s why it is necessary to check the name to see if the sender is even a real human being from an authentic company.
The main hint can be any typos or a spelling error, always check their location and phone directory for better checking. These are often one of the easiest yet sophisticated ways of avoiding being scammed by random phisher.
If you are so desperate you check the link; you can simply hover on it to get the text, this way you can check if you are directing to the right company.
These are some of the easiest yet important tricks contributed by Social Followers to prevent yourself from getting spoofed in any way through social engineering attacks on social media, specifically phishing.
In reality, to launch a social engineering attack, an attacker uses human interaction (social skills). In that case, to obtain or compromise information about a company (your financial institution) or its computer systems.
The attacker can look like anyone. And could fool you by saying they’re a repairman, or a new intern or employee. Then again, they could actually have identification that says they work for your institution.
They’ll try to gain your confidence, by asking questions, they may be able to piece together enough information to infiltrate your institution’s network.
If an attacker is not able to gather enough information from one source, they will try to contact another person in the institution.
And then, they’ll give the information gleaned from the first person they talked to (you) to add to their credibility and story. There you have it! Some incredible steps on phishing & social engineering attacks preventive measures.