CommunityDevOps ExchangePartners
Articles
12/12/2022
10 minutes

12 Types of Social Engineering Attacks to Look Out For

Written by
Copado Team
Table of contents

Originally published by New Context.

One of the biggest weaknesses in any organization’s cybersecurity strategy is human error. Social engineering attacks take advantage of this vulnerability by conning unsuspecting people into compromising security and giving out sensitive information. Social engineers use various psychological hacks to trick you into trusting them or create a false sense of urgency and anxiety to lower your natural defenses. Attackers can then breach your physical or technological security to steal money or confidential information.

The only way to prevent being targeted by social engineering is to study the methods, psychological triggers, and technological tools these attackers use. Scammers use many different types of social engineering attacks, but some common giveaways can help you spot and avoid them.

10 Types of Social Engineering Attacks

To prevent a social engineering attack, you need to understand what they look like and how you might be targeted. These are the 10 most common types of social engineering attacks to be aware of.

1. Phishing

Phishing is the most common type of social engineering attack, typically using spoofed email addresses and links to trick people into providing login credentials, credit card numbers, or other personal information. Variations of phishing attacks include:

  • Angler phishing – using spoofed customer service accounts on social media
  • Spear phishing – phishing attacks that target specific organizations or individuals

2. Whaling

Whaling is another common variation of phishing that specifically targets top-level business executives and the heads of government agencies. Whaling attacks usually spoof the email addresses of other high-ranking people in the company or agency and contain urgent messaging about a fake emergency or time-sensitive opportunity. Successful whaling attacks can expose a lot of confidential, sensitive information due to the high-level network access these executives and directors have.

3. Diversion Theft

In an old-school diversion theft scheme, the thief persuades a delivery driver or courier to travel to the wrong location or hand off a parcel to someone other than the intended recipient. In an online diversion theft scheme, a thief steals sensitive data by tricking the victim into sending it to or sharing it with the wrong person. The thief often accomplishes this by spoofing the email address of someone in the victim’s company—an auditing firm or a financial institution, for example.

4. Baiting

Baiting is a type of social engineering attack that lures victims into providing sensitive information or credentials by promising something of value for free. For example, the victim receives an email that promises a free gift card if they click a link to take a survey. The link might redirect them to a spoofed Office 365 login page that captures their email address and password and sends them to a malicious actor.

5. Honey Trap

In a honey trap attack, the perpetrator pretends to be romantically or sexually interested in the victim and lures them into an online relationship. The attacker then persuades the victim to reveal confidential information or pay them large sums of money.

6. Pretexting

Pretexting is a fairly sophisticated type of social engineering attack in which a scammer creates a pretext or fabricated scenario—pretending to be an IRS auditor, for example—to con someone into providing sensitive personal or financial information, such as their social security number. In this type of attack, someone can also physically acquire access to your data by pretending to be a vendor, delivery driver, or contractor to gain your staff’s trust.

7. SMS Phishing

SMS phishing is becoming a much larger problem as more organizations embrace texting as a primary method of communication. In one method of SMS phishing, scammers send text messages that spoof multi-factor authentication requests and redirect victims to malicious web pages that collect their credentials or install malware on their phones.

8. Scareware

Scareware is a form of social engineering in which a scammer inserts malicious code into a webpage that causes pop-up windows with flashing colors and alarming sounds to appear. These pop-up windows will falsely alert you to a virus that’s been installed on your system. You’ll be told to purchase and download their security software, and the scammers will either steal your credit card information, install real viruses on your system, or (most likely) both.

9. Tailgating/Piggybacking

Tailgating, also known as piggybacking, is a social engineering tactic in which an attacker physically follows someone into a secure or restricted area. Sometimes the scammer will pretend they forgot their access card, or they’ll engage someone in an animated conversation on their way into the area so their lack of authorized identification goes unnoticed.

10. Watering Hole

In a watering hole attack, a hacker infects a legitimate website that their targets are known to visit. Then, when their chosen victims log into the site, the hacker either captures their credentials and uses them to breach the target’s network, or they install a backdoor trojan to access the network.

 

How to Prevent a Social Engineering Attack

Social engineering represents a critical threat to your organization’s security, so you must prioritize the prevention and mitigation of these attacks as a core part of your cybersecurity strategy. Preventing a social engineering attack requires a holistic approach to security that combines technological security tools with comprehensive training for staff and executives.

Your first line of defense against a social engineering attack is training. Everyone in your organization should know how to spot the most common social engineering tactics, and they should understand the psychological triggers that scammers use to take advantage of people. A comprehensive social engineering and security awareness training course should teach staff to:

  • Determine whether an email has been spoofed by hovering over the sender’s name to make sure it matches the email address and checking the email address for spelling errors and other common giveaways.
  • Be suspicious of any unsolicited communication, especially from someone they don’t know.
  • Avoid downloading suspicious email attachments.
  • Hover over links in emails to make sure the website URL is valid.
  • Verify someone’s identity through an alternate contact method (e.g. in person or by calling them directly) before providing any sensitive information.

You also need to follow up your security awareness training with periodic tests to ensure your staff hasn’t become complacent. Many training programs allow for the administration of simulated phishing tests in which fake phishing emails are sent to staff members to gauge how many people fall for the social engineering tactics. Those staff members can then be retrained as needed.

Creating a positive security culture within your organization is critical for containing a social engineering attack that’s already happened. Your staff needs to feel comfortable self-reporting if they believe they’ve fallen victim to a social engineering attack, which they won’t do if they’re concerned about facing punishment or public humiliation. If these issues are reported as soon as they occur, the threat can be mitigated quickly before too much damage has occurred.

Finally, you need to implement technological security tools to prevent attacks on your organization and minimize the damage from any successful breaches. These tools should include firewalls, email spam filters, antivirus and anti-malware software, network monitoring tools, and patch management.

 

 

Book a demo

About The Author

#1 DevOps Platform for Salesforce

We Build Unstoppable Teams By Equipping DevOps Professionals With The Platform, Tools And Training They Need To Make Release Days Obsolete. Work Smarter, Not Longer.

Enhancing Customer Service with CopadoGPT Technology
What is Efficient Low Code Deployment?
Copado Launches Test Copilot to Deliver AI-powered Rapid Test Creation
Cloud-Native Testing Automation: A Comprehensive Guide
A Guide to Effective Change Management in Salesforce for DevOps Teams
Building a Scalable Governance Framework for Sustainable Value
Copado Launches Copado Explorer to Simplify and Streamline Testing on Salesforce
Exploring Top Cloud Automation Testing Tools
Master Salesforce DevOps with Copado Robotic Testing
Exploratory Testing vs. Automated Testing: Finding the Right Balance
A Guide to Salesforce Source Control
A Guide to DevOps Branching Strategies
Family Time vs. Mobile App Release Days: Can Test Automation Help Us Have Both?
How to Resolve Salesforce Merge Conflicts: A Guide
Copado Expands Beta Access to CopadoGPT for All Customers, Revolutionizing SaaS DevOps with AI
Is Mobile Test Automation Unnecessarily Hard? A Guide to Simplify Mobile Test Automation
From Silos to Streamlined Development: Tarun’s Tale of DevOps Success
Simplified Scaling: 10 Ways to Grow Your Salesforce Development Practice
What is Salesforce Incident Management?
What Is Automated Salesforce Testing? Choosing the Right Automation Tool for Salesforce
Copado Appoints Seasoned Sales Executive Bob Grewal to Chief Revenue Officer
Business Benefits of DevOps: A Guide
Copado Brings Generative AI to Its DevOps Platform to Improve Software Development for Enterprise SaaS
Celebrating 10 Years of Copado: A Decade of DevOps Evolution and Growth
Copado Celebrates 10 Years of DevOps for Enterprise SaaS Solutions
5 Reasons Why Copado = Less Divorces for Developers
What is DevOps? Build a Successful DevOps Ecosystem with Copado’s Best Practices
Scaling App Development While Meeting Security Standards
5 Data Deploy Features You Don’t Want to Miss
Top 5 Reasons I Choose Copado for Salesforce Development
How to Elevate Customer Experiences with Automated Testing
Getting Started With Value Stream Maps
Copado and nCino Partner to Provide Proven DevOps Tools for Financial Institutions
Unlocking Success with Copado: Mission-Critical Tools for Developers
How Automated Testing Enables DevOps Efficiency
How to Keep Salesforce Sandboxes in Sync
How to Switch from Manual to Automated Testing with Robotic Testing
Best Practices to Prevent Merge Conflicts with Copado 1 Platform
Software Bugs: The Three Causes of Programming Errors
How Does Copado Solve Release Readiness Roadblocks?
Why I Choose Copado Robotic Testing for my Test Automation
How to schedule a Function and Job Template in DevOps: A Step-by-Step Guide
Delivering Quality nCino Experiences with Automated Deployments and Testing
Best Practices Matter for Accelerated Salesforce Release Management
Maximize Your Code Quality, Security and performance with Copado Salesforce Code Analyzer
Upgrade Your Test Automation Game: The Benefits of Switching from Selenium to a More Advanced Platform
Three Takeaways From Copa Community Day
Cloud Native Applications: 5 Characteristics to Look for in the Right Tools
Using Salesforce nCino Architecture for Best Testing Results
How To Develop A Salesforce Testing Strategy For Your Enterprise
What Is Multi Cloud: Key Use Cases and Benefits for Enterprise Settings
5 Steps to Building a Salesforce Center of Excellence for Government Agencies
Salesforce UI testing: Benefits to Staying on Top of Updates
Benefits of UI Test Automation and Why You Should Care
Types of Salesforce Testing and When To Use Them
Copado + DataColada: Enabling CI/CD for Developers Across APAC
What is Salesforce API Testing and It Why Should Be Automated
Machine Learning Models: Adapting Data Patterns With Copado For AI Test Automation
Automated Testing Benefits: The Case For As Little Manual Testing As Possible
Beyond Selenium: Low Code Testing To Maximize Speed and Quality
UI Testing Best Practices: From Implementation to Automation
How Agile Test Automation Helps You Develop Better and Faster
Salesforce Test Cases: Knowing When to Test
DevOps Quality Assurance: Major Pitfalls and Challenges
11 Characteristics of Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) That Set Them Apart
7 Key Compliance Regulations Relating to Data Storage
7 Ways Digital Transformation Consulting Revolutionizes Your Business
6 Top Cloud Security Trends
API Management Best Practices
Applying a Zero Trust Infrastructure in Kubernetes
Building a Data Pipeline Architecture Based on Best Practices Brings the Biggest Rewards
CI/CD Methodology vs. CI/CD Mentality: How to Meet Your Workflow Goals
DevOps to DevSecOps: How to Build Security into the Development Lifecycle
DevSecOps vs Agile: It’s Not Either/Or
How to Create a Digital Transformation Roadmap to Success
Infrastructure As Code: Overcome the Barriers to Effective Network Automation
Leveraging Compliance Automation Tools to Mitigate Risk
Moving Forward with These CI/CD Best Practices
Top 3 Data Compliance Challenges of Tomorrow and the Solutions You Need Today
Top 6 Cloud Security Management Policies and Procedures to Protect Your Business
What are the Benefits of Principle of Least Privilege (POLP) for My Organization?
You Can’t Measure What You Can’t See: Getting to know the 4 Metrics of Software Delivery Performance
How the Public Sector Can Continue to Accelerate Modernization