Hackers are the constant negative workforce on the web and they make the internet very unsafe for innocent users. They use malware and virus attacks to hack the systems that are least protected. Whilst these are the problems that can be addressed to with the help of online security practices suggested by cybersecurity experts, hackers have started using a new method of stealing information and money that doesn’t require much technical knowledge. This new approach is known as ‘social engineering’.
A kind of phishing attack, social engineering is the practice of emotionally manipulating internet users to share sensitive information. In this way, hackers don’t really have to breach any network or infiltrate any system, users end up sharing the information they shouldn’t on their own. And this gets worse – hackers are not just succeeding in manipulating random web users, but they’re also being able to use social engineering to persuade employees to reveal sensitive details about the organization. It’s emerging as a very serious vulnerability since people are actually falling for it.
That said, let’s take you through the ways in which it works.
- When hackers persuade users to share sensitive details like a login password (or steal it), they send links/messages to every person in the contact list of the hacker user.
- Friends and friends of friends think that the personalized email or links are coming from the actual user.
- When they click on the link (that contains malware), their accounts are hacked too.
And this is how social engineering performs. A definite kind of phishing approach, it’s harder to tackle since it works on human manipulation.
These are the reasons that this form of phishing is giving security experts a hard time. The only way to curb this practice is creating awareness about it. So, the best way to protect yourself from falling at the hands of this targeted form of phishing are as follows.
- If you get any personalized email or message from a trusted source that a friend/relative has suffered from an accident and asks for your card details, don’t do it. Do not ever share your financial details with anyone online. Rather, check the credibility of the information in person instead of sending the details under panic.
- If you get fundraising requests for charity purposes that are attached with links that you can use to donate, don’t click on them. Instead, there are genuine charities where you can donate. If you still want to donate to the sender of the email, get the link checked before opening it or sending it to your contacts to gather more help.
Precisely, stick to one hard and fast rule when on the internet – don’t trust anyone or any source that asks for any kind of personal information. Instead of responding to emails or messages, call the concerned friends directly and find out if it’s them that have been sending out the requests or some hacker.