Digital Disasters: 5 Tips for Avoiding Social Engineering Attacks

Digital Disasters: 5 Tips for Avoiding Social Engineering Attacks

Social engineering describes an individual or group psychologically manipulating someone to perform an action or divulge sensitive information such as company passwords. Many criminals use this manipulation technique because it’s often easier than breaking through robust cybersecurity measures enacted by a company’s IT managed service provider

While you might not think you’re at risk of a social engineering attack, it happens more often than most people realize and to businesses of all sizes. To protect your business, consider taking some of the following actions: 

Update Software and Firmware

As frustrating as it can be to update software and firmware every time you get a notification, it’s vital to avoid unnecessary delays. Software developers release patches and updates to fix flaws that might allow cyber criminals to access your systems. Failing to update might make your business vulnerable. 

What’s more, when you update your software and firmware, you also benefit from resolutions for functionality issues and new features that might otherwise not be available. 

Understand Social Engineering Tactics

Social engineering can be complex, and there are many ways an individual or group can access your sensitive business information through you or your employees. Some people use baiting, which involves a USB stick with malware. Others rely on phishing variants – sending emails or text messages from what looks like a trusted source, asking you to confirm your personal information. 

Vishing and smishing are also becoming more common social engineering tactics. Criminals pose as co-workers or other trusted people and phone someone for login information or other details. When you and your team know what to look for, you’ll be in a stronger position to avoid becoming victims.   

Use Multi-Factor Authentication

If a cybercriminal obtains the password for your workplace or home computer, it’s only natural to feel nervous. After all, if they have your password, they can access your personal information. 

However, their attempts will go nowhere if you use multi-factor authentication. This means that alongside passwords, any prospective user must provide a second form of authentication, such as a code sent to your email address or mobile device. Not only can this prevent fraudulent log-in attempts, but it also alerts you to the fact that an attempted hack is in progress. 

Train Your Employees

While you might have the best managed service provider handling your IT infrastructure, it doesn’t hurt for your team to have basic IT training. Studies have shown that employees are more secure when encouraged to develop social engineering awareness. When they know how to keep themselves safe on the internet, they can also keep your business safe. 

One-off training sessions with IT professionals are helpful but don’t underestimate the importance of ongoing reminders. Compile a list of tips you can send out as frequent reminders to keep social engineering current in their minds. You can include these in intranet updates and email newsletters. 

Be Mindful of the Risks

You might not think twice about replying to a co-worker’s email asking for the business network passwords. However, never assume that the person you’re talking to is who they say they are. 

When asked to provide personal information – especially bank account details or passwords – double-check with the people requesting that information in person or over the phone on a trusted line. Be wary of information requests that come out of the blue with no context.    

Avoiding social engineering attacks can be challenging, especially since cybercriminals are becoming more crafty by the year. However, by brushing up on your social engineering knowledge and taking the precautions outlined above, you can keep yourself and your business safe from potential threats. 

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