How to Avoid Social Engineering Hacks

Social engineering hacks place all of us—as well as our families and our businesses—in harm’s way. Even if you’re not familiar with the term, you’re doubtless familiar with some of the most common social engineering hacks techniques—like phishing or vishing. In total, social engineering makes up an overwhelming majority of all cyberattacks—as in, somewhere between 95 and 99 percent. The good news is that these attacks can be avoided—but first, you have to know what they are and what you’re looking out for.

In this post, we’ll offer a quick overview of what social engineering hacks are, then an explanation of how to avoid them.

What is Social Engineering?

When we talk about social engineering attacks, we’re talking about any instance in which criminals prey upon basic human behaviors—usually either trust or simple error—to gain access to valuable information. This information might include bank account logins, Social Security Numbers, credit card data, passwords, and beyond.

There are a number of common social engineering hacks techniques, and they can present through fake websites, texts, emails, and even phone calls. Some of the most common forms that social engineering can take include:

  • Phishing emails
  • Voice phishing, or vishing
  • Fake IT support calls
  • Fake sales/deals

Clearly, there are many dangers that today’s online users face—so what can you do to keep yourself, your personal information, and your business network safe?

How to Avoid Social Engineering Human Hacking

Here’s our advice:

  • Learn how to identify phishing emails, and delete them without opening them. Be on guard for any suspicious emails, such as emails that claim to be from a major institution (Apple, Microsoft, your bank, etc.) but have typos or uncharacteristically informal email headings.
  • Be suspicious of any requests for sensitive information. It’s extremely unusual for trustworthy companies to call you and solicit personal information. If you’re ever asked to provide info over the phone (or email), ask to hang up and call them back on a verified line. Retrieve the line yourself, via a Web search—don’t trust the phone number the caller provides you with!
  • If you’re asked to provide information, ask for both verbal and written communication. In other words, if someone asks you to provide your password over the phone but you’re not sure if the request is legitimate, ask them to send you an email to confirm it.
  • Don’t open any links or attachments. Unless you’re expecting them.
  • Don’t use any foreign USBs or thumb drives. This is a common form of social engineering human hacking: A wrongdoer will infect a USB with malware, then leave it lying in a coffee shop or office building. Don’t ever plug in a device if you don’t know where it came from.
  • Use a password manager. Creating strong passwords is important, but using a password manager is even more valuable.
  • Back up everything. Sometimes, the only way to avert a malware attack is to recover all your data in a clean backup.
  • If you think you’re being targeted, talk with your IT team. Don’t hesitate to seek help from the experts!

Stay Safe from Social Engineering Hacks

Ultimately, online attacks are more common and more insidious than you might think. With the right habits, however, you can stay free and clear of them.

To protect your business from attacks, you may wish to contact a managed IT services company—like Salient Networks. Through our IT communication solutions, we always put security first. Contact us today to learn about network infrastructure support and beyond.