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Common Social Engineering Tactics Used by Cybercriminals and How to Avoid Them

Hackers and cybercriminals have a lot of tricks up their sleeves, but sometimes, the most effective tools don’t involve complex code or system exploits. Instead, they rely on something much simpler: manipulating us. Social engineering comes down to using psychological tricks to get you to give up sensitive information, click a malicious link or even send the attacker money.


Common Social Engineering Attacks


Social engineering is a serious problem because anyone can fall victim, no matter how tech-inclined you are. So, how do these attacks work, and what can you do to protect yourself? First, the common attacks:


Baiting: This tactic relies on our curiosity or greed. Attackers might leave an infected USB in a public place labelled “Bonus Payments”. When you plug it in, malware installs itself. Online, baiting might be a pop-up ad promising something incredible if you click.


Scareware: You know those pop-ups claiming your computer is infected or the emails claiming your account will be closed if you don’t act now? Those are scareware, trying to frighten you into clicking links or downloading bad software.


Pretexting: This is when an attacker impersonates someone you might trust – your bank, the IT department, even a colleague. They build a false sense of security to get you to divulge information you shouldn’t.


Phishing: These classic scams usually come over email or text. They might mimic a real company, asking you to reset your password or address a supposed problem. The goal is to get you to click links that take you to fake login pages or download malware.


Spear Phishing: This is phishing with a twist. Instead of generic emails sent to thousands of people, these are highly targeted. The attacker researches you, figuring out your role or who you work with, so they can craft a very convincing attack email.


How to Protect Yourself


Thankfully, there’s a lot you can do to stay safe. Some of the most effective tips include:


●        Stay Sceptical: Any communication that creates a sense of urgency makes a too-good-to-be-true offer, or seems out of the ordinary should raise a red flag.

●        Verify, Don’t Just Click: If you get an email about an account issue, don’t click within the email. Go directly to the company’s website or call a known-good number for them.

●        Don’t Give Up Personal Info: Banks, government agencies, and reputable companies won’t ask for your password or sensitive data out of the blue.

●        Use Multi-factor Authentication: This adds an extra layer of security, so even if someone gets your password, they still can’t log in.

●        Keep Software Updated: Updates often patch security holes that social engineers could exploit.


This is just the start. Don’t hesitate to reach out to professional assistance to ensure your safety.


We’re Here to Help


Social engineering attacks are constantly evolving. If you’re unsure about something or think you’ve been targeted, Proximitum can help. Your security is our priority. Contact us on +44 (0) 203-875-8930 for assistance.


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