Think Like A Criminal: What You Need to Know About Social Engineering Attacks in 2021
- by Brittany Day
In a previous blog post Think Like A Criminal: How To Write A Phishing Email, we examine phishing from the eyes of an attacker to help you understand and protect against this notorious email scam that is to blame for over 90% of all cyberattacks. In this article, we'll take a look at social engineering - or techniques that attackers employ to manipulate psychology. Considering 98% of all cyber attacks rely on social engineering, we want to provide you with information on the topic and advice for protecting against social engineering attacks that you can use to safeguard your users and key business assets. Here is what you need to know about social engineering in 2021.
What Is Social Engineering & How Is It a Threat to My Business?
Social engineering refers to the use of deception to manipulate individuals into sharing confidential or personal information that can be used for fraudulent or malicious purposes. Criminals have been leveraging social engineering techniques for centuries; however, in recent years, the magnitude of this threat has increased exponentially. Threat actors are now able to obtain extensive information on targets by searching the Internet - relying heavily on widely-used social media platforms for their research.
Social engineering scams are highly successful because they exploit human nature. Attack campaigns often prey on people’s inherent desire to help or leverage trust relationships built with a superior, colleague, partner or organization.
Like other cyber threats, social engineering attacks generally follow a standard lifecycle methodology that can be broken down into four clearly-defined steps:
1. Information Gathering: Threat actors identify a target, employ Open Source Intelligence Techniques (OSINT) to gather as much information on the target as possible and select the attack method(s) they will use.
2. Establish Relationship: Cyber criminals engage with the victim though targeted communications such as social media messages or spear phishing emails.
3. Exploitation: Attackers use information and the relationship they’ve built with the target to gain a ‘foothold’ (i.e. giving away sensitive information).
4. Attack Execution: Threat actors perform the attack - carefully erasing any digital footprints (such as malware) in order to remain undetected.
Phishing: A Favorite Lure Among Social Engineers
Phishing is the most common type of social engineering attack used to gain access to account credentials, sensitive data, confidential business information and funds. Phishing has dominated the email threat landscape for decades; however, with the recent increase in remote workers and the proliferation of popular cloud platforms like Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace, there has been a resurgence in phishing attacks. Unlike past phishing campaigns, modern phishing attacks are sophisticated, evasive and rely heavily on social engineering to appear legitimate. These malicious scams carry serious consequences for businesses including data theft, financial loss, reputation damage, significant downtime and, in many cases, permanent shutdown.
How Can I Defend Against Social Engineering Attacks?
The majority of social engineering attacks are so targeted and deceptive that it has become difficult to blame a user for falling for a scam. After all, even the most security-conscious individuals can be tricked by social engineering. Thus, defending against social engineering attacks requires a comprehensive, fully-managed email security solution capable of anticipating and blocking advanced and emerging threats in real-time that and preventing all malicious mail from being delivered, creating a safeguarded environment around the user.
In addition, users and organizations should use strong passwords for all accounts and be aware of the information they make publicly available online. We suggest checking websites for personal information that may be publicly available (like addresses, phone numbers, etc.), and requesting that it be removed. Websites like haveieenpwned, which notify users when their information is discovered online, can be helpful in monitoring the availability of your personal information on the Internet.
The Bottom Line
People are not computers - but they can still be hacked through the use of social engineering tactics. Combating modern email threats that leverage social engineering techniques requires a fully-managed, all-in-one email security solution that safeguards the inbox against all fraudulent mail that could potentially lead to compromise.
Interested in partnering with an industry leader to secure your users, your data and your brand against the most advanced email threats? Let’s Get In Touch>
- Thinking Strategically about Email Security in 2021 and Beyond
- There’s a Lot to be Gained with Effective Email Security
- Behind the Shield: EnGarde Cloud Email Security Explained
- Open Source: A Powerful, Yet Underutilized Weapon against Phishing & Zero-Day Attacks
- Buyer's Guide: What to Prioritize in an Email Security Solution
- Buyer's Guide to Office 365 & Workspace Email Security
- EnGarde Cloud Email Security: The Logical Solution to Cyber Risk in Office 365
- Exchange Servers Are Vulnerable - Learn How To Secure Your Email Server Now
- Top Email Security Risks in 2021 - How To Set Your Business Up for Safety & Success
- Ransomware By The Numbers: How Big Is My Risk?
- SMB Ransomware Warnings & How To Prevent an Attack
- Apache SpamAssassin 3.4.6 Release Fixes Two Potentially Aggravating Bugs
- Top Tips and Advice for Staying Safe Online in a Work-from-Home World
- Demystifying Phishing Attacks: How to Protect Yourself Now
- Why Your Business Needs Better Email Security
- Why Ransomware is a Threat to Business
- How to Protect Sensitive Data & Maintain Client Trust in Financial Services Industry
- Why Office 365 Users Are Moving Away from Relying on Default Email Protection Alone
- What You Need to Know to Shield Your Business from Ransomware
- Why You Need DMARC to Secure Email against Spoofing Attacks & Sender Fraud
- Biden's Cybersecurity Efforts Highlight the Power of this Key Technology
- Shortcomings of Endpoint Security in Securing Business Email
- Open Source Utilization in Email Security Demystified
- Limitations of Microsoft 365 Email Security & How To Close These Dangerous Gaps
- DMARC Quarantine vs. Reject: Which Should You Implement to Secure Business Email against Sender Fraud?
- Think Like A Criminal: What You Need to Know About Social Engineering Attacks in 2021
- TLS Email Encryption Explained - How To Encrypt Email with TLS
- Effectively Securing Business Email Accounts: Are Employees the Weakest Link?
- Encryption: An Essential Yet Highly Controversial Component of Digital Security
- Business Email Security Redefined: Key Benefits of Securing Your Business Email with Guardian Digital
- 8 Business Email Security Best Practices
- Demystifying Email Encryption: Stop Sender Fraud
- Demystifying Tax Fraud: How to Avoid Falling Victim to Deceptive, Costly Scams This Tax Season
- Coronavirus Phishing Scams are On the Rise - Is Your Business Email at Risk of Infection?
- Dave Wreski: A Passionate Engineer Brings the Power of Open Source to Business Email Security
- FBI: Existing Cloud Email Protection Inadequate Against Phishing, Ransomware
- Email Risk is Universal: Securing Business Email in Every Industry Sector
- The Remote Worker's Guide to Safely Navigating Office 365
- Why Your Business Needs Superior Email Protection
- Defending Against COVID Email Spoofing Attacks with DMARC
- You’ve Got Mail: How To Tell If It’s Fraud
- Open-Source Security Is Opening Eyes
- Think Like A Criminal: How To Write A Phishing Email
- The Four Biggest Email Threats Your Business Faces Today
- Everything On DocuSign Phishing Attacks in 3 Minutes
- Understanding Payload-Less Email Attacks in Under 3 Minutes
- Demystifying Fileless Malware in Less than 3 Minutes
- Apache SpamAssassin Leads A Growing List of Open-Source Projects Taking Steps to Correct Instances of Racism and White Privilege
- Cyber Risk Is Greater than Ever in the Legal Industry
- Understanding Malicious URL Protection - And Why You Need It to Secure Your Email
- Email Security for SMBs Beyond COVID-19
- Email Risk Is BIG for SMBs - How To Protect Your Business Now
- Why Email Security Is More Important Than Ever in This 'New Reality'
- The Threat of CEO Fraud Extends Beyond the C-Suite
- Top Email Security Trends Putting Your Business at Risk of Attack
- Managed Services: A Key Element of Effective Email Security that Even Modern Solutions Lack
- How to maintain security when employees work remotely: Advice from Leading Security Experts
- FBI: The 2020 Presidential Election Is Under Attack by Email Scammers
- AT&T Security Researchers Identify a Correlation between Strong Cybersecurity and Business Success
- The Aftermath of a Cyberattack Pt. 1: Phishing Recovery Basics
- It Pays to be Prepared! Ransomware Preparedness & Recovery Basics
- Breaking Down Fileless Malware: Anatomy of an Attack
- Keep the Holidays Merry & Bright - Beware of These Sneaky Seasonal Phishing Scams
- Migrating Business Email: The Hidden Complexities You Need To Know
- SPF, DKIM & DMARC: Definition & How They Secure Email Against Sender Fraud?
- Your Current Approach to Email Security May Not Be Enough
- Ways to Prevent Email Account being compromised in a Breach
- Celebrating 20 Years of Revolutionizing Digital Security
- IBM Closes its $34 Billion Acquisition of Red Hat
- Interview with Security Expert and Author Ira Winkler
- What is Phishing Email? How to prevent Phishing email scams?
- Ways Our Business Email Exceed Your Expectations
- Spear Phishing Protection - Definition & How To Recognize Spear Phishing Email
- What is Whaling (Whaling Phishing)? & How to Prevent Whaling attacks?
- Business Email Compromise (BEC) - Definition & Prevention From BEC Attacks
- Wire Transfer Scams Involving Real Estate Transactions: How to Prevent Fraud with Effective Email Security
- Guardian Digital and Mautic: A Dynamic Open-Source Duo
- Email Malware - How to Recognize & Prevent Malware Email Attack
- An Open-Source Success Story: Apache SpamAssassin Celebrates 18 Years of Effectively Combating Spam Email
- What is Spam Email - Types & How to Prevent Spam Emails?
- 2020: A New Decade of Digital Threats - Is Your Business Email Secure?
- Linux: An OS Capable of Effectively Meeting the US Government’s Security Needs Heading into 2020
- Complete Guide on Email Security & Threats Faced by Organizations
- Email Virus - Complete Guide to Email Viruses Plus Best Practices
- What Are Zero-Day Attacks & How Can I Prevent Them?
- Guardian Digital Keeps its Customers Protected from Intel Design Flaw
- Security Spotlight: Open Source Email Security Solutions
- Top Six Advantages of Open Source Development/Products
- Python and Bash - Contenders for the most used scripting language
- Guardian Digital Outlines Top 4 Benefits of Choosing Cloud
- Unrivaled Protection Against Today’s Most Dangerous Threats
- Guard Your Email Accounts Against Today’s Most Dangerous Threats
- Security Highlights from Defcon 26
- Linux / Open Source FAQs: Common Myths / Misconceptions
- Email Security FAQs Answered by Guardian Digital
- Guardian Digital Mail Systems: Designed to be Secure Without Fail