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Social Engineering Awareness Training

Human beings tend to respond to events in similar ways. For example, if someone knocks on your door, you will most likely open it, or if someone offers you a gift, you may jump at the chance to take it.

Social engineering manipulates behavioral traits for the benefit of a cybercriminal. Research has shown that social engineering is an effective method of scamming employees and ensuring that a cyber-attack is successful, with studies showing that 90% of cyberattacks target employees.

Social engineering is also a costly crime for a business; IBM researchers found that the average cost of a cyber-attack that begins with a social engineering campaign is $4.1 million

TitanHQ explores the tactics used by social engineers and how social engineering awareness training can help stop this costly and damaging cyber-attack method.

What is Social Engineering?

Social engineering is about hacking a human. Cybercriminals that use social engineering tactics focus on manipulating an individual's behavior or exploiting human error.

Social engineering is not a new way to control a person; influencing human behavior is as old as human beings. However, when used to hack digital systems, social engineering is a fast way to enter a corporate network without using technical hacking methods.

The result is stolen credentials and unauthorized access, ransomware and other malware infection, data breaches, and other cyber-attacks. Social engineering aims to encourage an employee or other individual to:

  • Open infected documents or files
  • Click on malicious links
  • Navigate to nefarious websites
  • Perform other actions that lead to unauthorized access or financial loss.

The result of a successful social engineering attack includes the following:

  • Theft of login credentials
  • Transfer of funds to a cybercriminal's bank account
  • Installation of malware, including ransomware
  • Data theft

Did You Know?

92% drop

in phishing susceptibility with SafeTitan

62%

of employees share passwords

$10.5 trillion

estimated global cybercrime cost

82%

of data breaches involved a human being

How Do Hackers and Scammers Exploit Employees?

Hackers use social engineering to exploit our instincts; the methods used to exploit employees include:

Building Trust

Cybercriminals are adept at building then exploiting trust. Phishing methods such as Clone phishing and spear phishing work by creating trusted exchanges that work to trick employees into clicking malicious links and downloading infected files.

Mistakes and User Fatigue

Tiredness can result in simple errors or mishaps. Fraudsters take advantage of situations where employees may be too tired to notice something happening under their watch.

Exploiting Common Behaviors

Behavior such as the need to conform or wanting to do a good job/please the boss, is exploited by cybercriminals. This tactic is often used in phishing or Business Email Compromise (BEC) scams to encourage an emotional or 'knee-jerk' response to ensure that a scam is successful.

Social Engineering Attack Examples

Social engineering comes in many forms, and cybercriminals may change tactics or use a mix of social engineering types to ensure a successful cyber-attack. Some of the most common types of social engineering attacks include one or more of the following:

Phishing

Any messaging system can become a conduit for phishing. The list of common types of phishing vectors includes emails, SMS messages (SMShing), phone calls (Vishing), and social media posts.

Additionally, social engineering tactics, such as trust and behavioral responses like acting fast or missing out, are exploited to engage the recipient of the phish and encourage them to act, such as clicking a malicious link. Phishing is the most common part of a cyber-attack, as evidenced in a report by Symantec that shows 96% of data breaches begin with a phishing email.

Social Media and Social Engineering

Social media platforms contain large amounts of data about an individual. Scammers use these sites as part of an effective social engineering campaign's reconnaissance and intelligence gathering step.

Scammers use these data to develop cyber-attacks that include Business Email Compromise (BEC). Social media is also a way for scammers to phish victims or encourage employees to release even more information that attackers use to build trust with a target.

Pretexting

Pretexting is used to trick people into believing that the fraudster is someone in authority, for example, an IT contractor. The fraudster will be an accomplished actor and manipulate a situation by developing trust and encouraging people to give up sensitive information such as passwords. Often pretexting happens in real life, within a workplace, but the ramifications are often digital, an example being an infected USB fob inserted into a laptop left unattended.

Baiting

Baiting involves making a target believe that they will receive something they want if they provide something the scammer wants, such as login credentials. This tactic exploits the human desire to own something or the fear of missing out on something.

Tailgating

Tailgating is where an authorized person 'tailgates' or follows a legitimate employee into a restricted area or system. A well-known example is when someone carrying several pizza boxes tricks an employee into opening a locked door.

Scareware

Fear is a behavior that fraudsters love to exploit. An example is a pop-up announcing that a computer has been infected with malware. The pop-up offers to quell the fear if the employee clicks to install software to remove the malware. But, of course, clicking on the link will install the malware that caused the fear response in the first place.

Why Social Engineering Awareness Training is Important

Social engineering exploits people. Employees must be educated on the various tactics used by cybercriminals to carry out that exploitation. Security awareness training should include a core component that addresses social engineering methods and teaches employees about how fraudsters manipulate their behavior. Without a sound education in the type of exploitation, employees face from cybercriminals, it will be much harder to spot scams.

90% of cyberattacks target employees.

Tips to Prevent a Successful Social Engineering Attack

Employees need advice on specific tactics scammers and hackers use to help prevent a successful social engineering attack. Some examples of training tips that can help prevent a cyber-attack or scam include:

  • Be wary of requests to share information on social media or via email, phone, or other messaging systems.
  • Double-check email requests from third parties and other companies if they ask for sensitive information or request payment changes.
  • Understand why processes and checks can ensure that fund transfers are legitimate.
  • Be cautious about clicking email links and opening attachments - if unsure, directly call the sender and ask if the request is real.

SafeTitan for Social Engineering Training

SafeTitan is a behavior-driven security awareness training platform. Because behavior manipulation is a central theme of social engineering, a behavior-driven security awareness training service will help train employees to stop this manipulation.

SafeTitan provides focused, rules-based training for your employees, giving them the knowledge to recognize a social engineering attempt. Amongst the features of SafeTitan that help protect employees against social engineering are the following:

Simulated Phishing

SafeTitan offers an advanced simulated phishing platform proven to reduce susceptibility to phishing by up to 92%. 

Fun and Interactive Training Sessions

Gamified training on social engineering scenarios helps employees learn and understand these scams' complex nature.

Contextual Learning

Feedback is essential but should be done during a training session. Contextual learning gives users the information needed to understand how hackers can manipulate certain behaviors.

Real-time Metrics

Metrics show the effectiveness of a social engineering training session. These metrics are delivered to a central dashboard by SafeTitan to allow you to adjust training to ensure effectiveness. 

If you want to see how SafeTitan can help prevent social engineering attacks and secure your company, sign up for a free SafeTitan demo.

Geraldine Hunt

Geraldine Hunt

  • SECURITY AWARENESS TRAINING

Talk to our Team today

Talk to our Team today

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is Social Engineering?

Scammers and fraudsters use social engineering to manipulate human behavior and take advantage of situations such as fatigued employees and human error. Social engineering aims to install malware, steal credentials, control funds transfer, and do other nefarious deeds.

What is a Social engineering attack?

A social engineering attack involves manipulating an individual into performing an act that benefits a cybercriminal. For example, a phishing email may trick an employee into believing the email was sent from a person in authority. The email may contain a malicious link; behaviors such as trust, conformity, and wanting to do a good job are exploited to encourage the employee to click the malicious link.

What is a Common Method Used in Social Engineering?

Phishing is a common method used in social engineering. For example, a phishing email, SMS text message, or phone call may be used to trick an employee into handing over login credentials or doing some other activity that benefits the fraudster. Other common methods used in social engineering include tailgating, where an employee is tricked into allowing a fraudster into a restricted area.

Why Should Social Engineering be Included in Security Awareness Training?

Social engineering is a common tactic used by cybercriminals to initiate a cyber-attack. Therefore, it's essential to include social engineering as part of security awareness training. Without social engineering training, security awareness training will miss educating staff on effective methods used by cybercriminals.

How Can You Protect Yourself from Social Engineering Using Cyber Awareness?

Cyber awareness training teaches employees ways to protect themselves from social engineering attempts. For example, cyber awareness training will educate employees about the types of emotional responses cybercriminals exploit and how to stop and think before clicking a link. In addition, cyber awareness arms employees with a toolbox of methods that allow them to recognize potential scams. 

How Can You Protect Yourself from Internet Hoaxes Using Cyber Awareness?

According to Statistica, by Q3 2022, there were around 1.27 million unique phishing sites worldwide. Internet hoaxes, including phishing websites, are used to steal credentials and infect devices with malware; these scams are commonplace and often challenging to identify. Cyber awareness teaches employees to spot a phishing site or internet hoax.

What Type of Social Engineering Targets a Particular Individuals' Cyber Awareness?

Attackers will use social engineering techniques to target specific individuals in an organization. For example, suppose the cybercriminal requires administrator login credentials to access a network. In that case, the fraudster will first find out information about the target and then use this to create a spear phishing email that is carefully crafted using social engineering tactics.

Is Phishing Social Engineering?

Phishing is often part of a social engineering attack. Fraudsters will craft a phishing email or use phone calls (Vishing) or text messages (SMShing) using social engineering tactics. The phishing attempt will be augmented using behavior manipulation and by eliciting emotional responses from the recipient.