Your organization might have all of its bases covered in the context of cyber security only to fall prey to cyber criminals’ social engineering tactics. Perhaps you have implemented two-factor authorization processes, anti-virus protection, firewalls and beyond. Yet an employee slip-up has the potential to devastate your business. Cyber-criminals are well aware of this fact. These malicious individuals are going to great lengths to trick employees into making mistakes that will open the door for access to sensitive information.
An Explanation of how Criminals use Social Engineering
Plenty of cyber thieves are starting to hone in on “green” employees who are lacking in technical knowledge. These criminals fool employees into forking over important information like usernames and passwords. Some thieves are even tricking people into providing their banking information. The bottom line is that your efforts to combat overt hacking attempts can only protect your organization to a certain degree. It is imperative that your employees are aware of covert digital theft attempts and how they can proactively fight against these threats.
Educating Employees about Cyber Security and the Social Engineering Threat
If you have not yet warned your employees about the rise of social engineering, the time to do so is now. Though it sounds nihilistic, people should not trust others. This is especially true for those who are employed. Employees must understand they are at a greater chance of being targeted by social engineering simply because they work for an organization. Cyber thieves will use subtle tactics like sending official-looking e-mails from allegedly professional organizations in an attempt to convince workers to fork over sensitive information.
Social engineering extends all the way to fake pop-up forms on the web, phony phone calls, and intricate baiting schemes and beyond. Yet social engineering through e-mail is by far the most pervasive form of social engineering. Most of these e-mails contain innocent-looking links, attachments and seemingly legitimate requests. All it takes is one click of a link within an e-mail to trigger spyware that tracks the user’s computer activity, including his keystrokes when entering usernames, password, banking information and beyond.
How to Fight Back
The best way to combat social engineering threats is to increase awareness. Employees who are well-informed regarding the danger of social engineering will be less likely to fall prey. Employees should be provided with examples of such creative attempts to pilfer sensitive data. Cyber thieves go to great lengths to make their social engineering schemes look perfectly normal. They will create phony professional personas, elaborate looking forms, well-written e-mails and all sorts of other schemes to create the impression of legitimacy. The wrongdoers behind social engineering efforts set these traps so a virus attaches to the target’s computer, providing the thief with access to the computer, e-mail account, and other sensitive electronic data.
Some attempt to trap employees with messages referring to confidential information pertaining to their account. Others come up with elaborate stories about taxes owed to the IRS, unclaimed winning lottery tickets and beyond. Thieves often dangle rewards for compliance or state they’ll help the target avoid legal consequences. Employees who are educated about these intricate scams will be able to better identify them and consequently, flag them.
Employees should also be encouraged to eliminate spam from their e-mail, research requests for information and question anything that has even the slightest air of illegitimacy. Every worker should update his computer anti-virus software on a regular basis. Each e-mail attachment must be critiqued and scanned before it is opened. Those who are in a position of power should stress the importance of approaching all electronic communications with skepticism. Employees should be encouraged to view such messages, inquiries, links and attachments as potential threats. When in doubt, they should never click or enter data.
Protect Your Data with an Informed Workforce
Social engineering will likely continue to grow as it becomes harder to pilfer data through traditional hacking methods. Organizations that train their workers on the dangers of this new age data theft scam will reap the rewards. In a way, your firm’s cyber security hinges on the actions of your workforce. Raise your team’s awareness of social engineering and you’ll sidestep some major problems across posterity.
Nexxen Technologies, Inc.
West Palm Beach, FL
Nicholas Fortin is the President and Owner of Nexxen Technologies, Inc., which provides IT Support in West Palm Beach. With a wealth of experience in the IT industry and a very real sense of what it takes to run a successful business, he is the ideal person to help their clients achieve more through a more efficient use of technology. Nicholas is well versed in the management of computer networks, IT Infrastructure and Operations Services (IOS), as well as in IT security best practices, due diligence, PCI-DSS, SOX, and HIPAA compliance. Nicholas is justifiably proud of his ability to establish and maintain excellent working relationships, not only with their clients and vendors but with his co-workers too. Their 98% customer retention rate is a source of pride to everyone on the Nexxen Technologies, Inc. team too!