This is a contributor’s article from Rebecca James.
Cybercriminals are significantly targeting people by sending fake emails, stealing their credentials, and uploading malicious attachments to cloud applications. It is easy and even profitable for the attacker rather than creating an expensive and time-consuming exploit that has a high possibility of failure.
It is revealed that 99% of threats need human interaction to execute. Proofpoint report shared that enabling a macro, opening an attachment, following a link, all signify the importance of social engineering to allow successful attacks.
Social engineering is an art of provoking people, so they give their confidential information. The information can vary from person to person, but when they are targeted so, the attackers are trying to trick them into having access to their computer, bank information, and passwords to install malicious software. By doing so, they will get access to the targeted victim's password and bank information along with control over their system.
Criminals often use social engineering techniques because it is easier to exploit natural inclination to trust than to find out ways to hack software. Like for example, it is easy to make someone fool by asking their password rather than trying to break their password by applying different tactics.
There are various kinds of social engineering attacks, but the most common are email-based social engineering attacks. To further aid our readers on this topic, read the remaining article to know about this attack is and how one can protect themselves from it.
Phishing is one of the most successful social engineering attacks. It plays a significant role in the implementation of cybercrimes. In 2018, 76% of the business organization had been a victim of phishing attacks.
Phishing attacks are usually emails and text messages campaigns directed at creating curiosity, fear, and a sense of urgency among the victims. Such email-based attacks compel the victims to reveal their sensitive information, or click on links to malicious websites, and opening attachments which contain malware.
For example, an email is sent to the users of an online service which alerts them of a policy violation and require immediate action on their part, like, asking for a password change. It consists of a link to an illegal website which is similar in appearance to its legitimate version and is encouraging the user to enter their credentials and new password. The provided information goes to the attacker, who later uses it for their reasons.
Spear phishing is an under-attack version of the phishing scam. In 2012, 91% of the cyber-attacks were started with spear phishing. In this attack, an attacker selects some specific enterprises or individuals which then tailor their messages based on contacts, characteristics, and job position belonging to the targeted victim to make their attack less visible.
This attack requires much more effort from the perpetrator and might take weeks and even months to pull off. They are hard to detect and have a better success rate if performed skillfully.
The report states that about 83% of the Infosecurity respondents experienced phishing attacks in 2018, which was previously 76% in 2017. These figures continue to increase, but, if some tips are followed so, you might end up being the victim of such attacks.
Following are some ways to prevent email-based social engineering attacks:
Social engineering attacks are getting prevalent these days. Such attacks can occur at any place and at any time, no matter if you're online or offline. The best possible way to protect and secure yourself against it is to be aware and educate yourself as well as other people around you. Also, follow the tips mentioned above to remain protected.