Ever since the start of the internet age we’ve seen the development of something known as cybercrime. Cybercrime has become more and more common as the years have come and gone.
Hackers are finding new ways to infiltrate people’s devices, and nowadays there is more at risk than ever before because of the sheer amount of important information that can be found on the average internet user’s device. One of the most common methods of cybercrime is phishing.
Phishing has been around for years, however it has now developed in such a way that it’s almost impossible to avoid. Social engineering makes phishing scams more believable, and it makes them even more difficult to spot. If you’re not sure what social engineering is or how to spot it, keep reading to find out more!
Social engineering is a concept that has become extremely popular amongst modern day cybercriminals. This cunning technique has become more and more frequent as the world has progressed into becoming more reliant on the internet.
Society has quickly shifted to creating a world that is online and connected at all times. Our work, entertainment, and even our finances can all be accessed through the internet. Businesses have moved away from the old school pen and paper methods and more towards the digital age.
We can now bank online, watch TV shows and movies from the comfort of our own home, and in some cases we can even work online without going near an office. This might be extremely convenient for us all, but it has also opened up a new avenue for hackers to explore. Cybercriminals have grabbed this opportunity with both hands, and they’re exploiting this new digital society as much as they possibly can.
This is where social engineering comes in. This tactic is used by hackers to trick people into trusting them and falling into their traps. Social engineering is when a cybercriminal poses as a company or as a person that their victim might know and trust. Remember, you never know who’s sitting on the other end of that screen.
While you might think that it’s your bank that’s sent you an important email, it could actually be a cybercriminal waiting for the perfect opportunity to launch their cyberattack. Cybercriminals have become extremely clever and cunning, and they are able to replicate large companies’ emails or messages to make them look legitimate.
The entire concept behind social engineering is creating a scenario where the victim would trust the cybercriminal. The easiest way to gain the person’s trust is for the hacker to put up a front and hide their true intentions. As we’ll see below, this can be done in other ways than just pretending to be someone else.
Social engineering is an extremely dangerous tactic as it can easily catch out unsuspecting internet users. It can be difficult to spot as well, and this is because the hackers have become so good at replicating legitimate companies. For example, they can use the same colour scheme and logo of the company they are impersonating, which the average internet user will never question.
Cybercriminals are constantly researching and planning their cyberattacks. They might target a group of people for example, and set up a fake profile of one person. If the person has mutual friends and family it can be easy for them to trust the fake profile that has been set up by the cybercriminals.
Social engineering has gone even further than simply impersonating a company or person though. Some cybercriminals have begun to develop their own “cybersecurity tools”. This has created an easy way for them to break into people’s devices.
These fake cybersecurity tools usually have some kind of unique selling point. They might be free when compared to the usual expensive cybersecurity tools you would otherwise find on the internet for example. This means that many people are drawn to these fake cybersecurity tools without truly understanding the dangers they could be facing.
The victim would be installing the fake cybersecurity tool on their device believing that they are taking measures to protect their device, when in fact, they are putting themselves even more at risk. As soon as the fake cybersecurity tool has been installed on the victim’s device, it will begin to install all kinds of malicious software on their device. This malicious software can range from viruses to spyware and even ransomware, and it would put the victim in even more danger than they were before.
Social engineering is mostly used when hackers send our phishing emails. Phishing scams are common, especially now that cybercriminals have developed their strategy and they are able to replicate emails from large companies to trick unsuspecting victims into falling for their traps.
An example of social engineering being used in a phishing scam is when the hackers will send an email pretending to be Netflix. Since Netflix is a large global entertainment company with millions of subscribers, it’s highly likely that their potential victim has a Netflix account. This makes it a much easier target for the hackers to aim at.
The phishing email will replicate an email from Netflix, using the same colour schemes and logos that Netflix uses in their emails, making the email look completely legitimate. The email will inform the victim that their account could be suspended if they do not update their billing details. The text in the email will then urge the victim to click on a link in order to update their billing information. The link will direct the user to a login page that has a keylogger installed on it, and it is able to copy everything that the victim types into the website and give it straight to the cybercriminal.
Social engineering has made phishing scams much more successful. In the past phishing scams were much easier to spot, however, with this cunning new strategy in place it become a real challenge to avoid these traps that have been set up by hackers.