Access Systems Blog

Are You Prepared for a Social Engineering Attack?

Nov 5, 2019 8:51:00 AM

Being ready for any cyber attack is a big undertaking, but social engineering attempts are harder to detect.

Social engineering attacks target your emotions and relationships to gain access to valuable information and your network. Not only do they go after your technology, but they use humans as the key to unlock your network. You’ve probably seen social engineering attacks before, like phishing emails, phone scams and email hacking.  

Knowledge is essential to identifying social engineering attacks. These sneaky attacks turn us all into detectives to avoid falling victim.

Here are four step you can take to protect yourself and your business from a social engineering attack:

Unsolicited emails are favorite tools of social engineering attacks.

Investigate Unsolicited Messages

We receive unsolicited messages every day, but these emails are the perfect tool for social engineers. These emails slip past your filter to wreak havoc on your network. While they may seem normal, unsolicited messages are dangerous.

But, how do you know if these messages are genuine or not?

While checking for spelling mistakes may be a clue to a social engineering attack, it isn’t the only indicator.

Check the Sender's Email Address

A big clue that this email is a social engineering attack is the sender’s email address. Email addresses can be easily manipulated to appear like they are from a trusted source.

Even though the email says it is from Jane Doe, doesn’t mean it came from the real Jane Doe you know. Check the email address to make sure it is valid. Be careful! It’s easy to mistake an invalid address for one you are familiar with, like vs. A simple mistake like this can cost your company millions of dollars in ransomware or data through a social engineering attack.

Double-Check Links before Clinking

You’ve probably have been warned about clicking links before. They are a popular email phishing tactic for social engineering, but the threat is very real. Clicking on a link can open the door for malicious cyber attackers to steal passwords, data and even encrypt your devices in a ransomware attack.

Simply put, only click on links you are absolutely, 100% confident in, especially in unsolicited emails.

It’s easy for social engineers to hide devious intent in shortened links. Typically, if you hover over the links you can see the full address.

Another way to check links is to put your detective hat on and search for important information online.

  • Does the company have Google reviews?
  • Have other people used their services?
  • Does the sender have a LinkedIn account?

Information like this won’t take hours of your time but will help you avoid falling victim to a social engineering attack. Resources — like Google, Glassdoor and LinkedIn — are at your fingertips and can protect you from an attack.

Exercise Caution When Opening Attachments

We’ve all been warned before about clicking on links, but what about attachments? Attachments can open the door to your network to a social engineer.

Before you download that document, ask yourself:

  • Are you expecting an attachment?
  • Do you trust the sender?

If you weren’t expecting an attachment or the attachment doesn’t quite fit the email message, physically call the sender to verify the document.

Be Critical of Money & Information Requests

Money or information requests can be a dangerous tool for social engineering attacks. Social engineering emails pressure you into making decisions without thinking. This is especially common with spear phishing emails.

Social engineers want you to act first and think second. They use terms like ‘urgent’, ‘this is your last chance’, and ‘respond now’ to manipulate you into open the door to a cyber attack.

Before you rush to reply to this urgent message with the right contact information or even a bank account number, stop and ask yourself: can this information be used against yourself or your business in the future?

Updating your software and hardware is an easy step towards cybersecurity

Update Anti-Virus & Email Filters

Having up to date anti-virus, firewalls and email filters can help stop your employees from even seeing a social engineering attack in their inbox. Anti-viruses and firewalls protect your employees from reaching malicious websites, and strict email filters stop the unsolicited messages from entering their inboxes.

This layered protection only is effective, if it has the most recent patches or updates. Like the apps on your phone, this software needs to be updated to protect against the latest cyber attacks.

While software can only do so much to prevent your employees from falling for a social engineering attack, they provide a layered approach to cybersecurity.

Set Up Multifactor Authentication

Multifactor Authentication (or 2FA) is an added protection to gain access to an account or device. Working alongside a password, multifactor authentication requires you to verify your identity with either something you have, like your cell phone, or biometrics, like facial recognition.

Multifactor authentication makes it much harder for social engineers to gain access to important data and is much stronger than a simple password. Consider adding this extra layer of protection across your business or start small with a personal account, like your online banking.

Have Strong Cybersecurity Policies & Employee Training

A strong cybersecurity policy helps your company and employees. When you have a clear cybersecurity policy, your employees have a protocol to follow when faced with a potential social engineering attack.

Is your cybersecurity policy up to par? We created this article so you can assess your company’s cybersecurity.

Pairing a strong cybersecurity policy with in-person training is the perfect recipe to keep your business safe. In-person training will keep your employees engaged and teach them how to:

  • Identify phishing emails
  • React when they suspect a cyber attack
  • Understand the risks

Don’t force your employees to guess what they should do when faced with a social engineering attack. Give them the guidelines and training they need to make the right decision.

Work with a Cybersecurity Expert

A managed services provider can help you make sure you have the technical elements and training in place to protect yourself from a social engineering attack.

At Access Systems, we do more than just put in place hardware. We are your IT consultant. From writing the best cybersecurity policy to giving our expert advice on the latest technology, we are here to help your business grow.

We start every managed IT partnership with an IT Assessment. Are you ready to take the next step in cybersecurity? Give us a call or send us an email!

Network Assessment

Topics: cybersecurity, cyber attack, phishing, social engineering

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