Social Engineering Scams to Warn Your Employees About

Social Engineering Scams

There are multiple ways in which hackers and cybercriminals can access your systems. One of the most common tactics is social engineering, where your employees are tricked into willingly giving away valuable information. So, it doesn’t matter if you have the best security solutions in place. If your employees don’t have the necessary security training, they become the liability that cybercriminals look to exploit.

Unfortunately, human error has always been the most likely cause of security failures and other incidents. The worst part is that human error is probably the easiest vulnerability to leverage. Hackers are highly intelligent individuals that can devise several clever methods of trespassing into your systems without assistance. But what better way is there to access a system than to get an insider to do the dirty work for them?

What is a social engineering scam?

Social engineering scams target a victim through psychological manipulation, essentially tricking them into performing a risky operation or giving away information.

Here are some of the most common social engineering scams that your employees are likely to come across.

Common social engineering scams your employees should know about

Email phishing

Phishing is one of the oldest social engineering scams targeting businesses on a grand scale. The technique or method simply involves sending an email which asks for confidential or personal information. The emails are designed and drafted in such a way that the reader often considers it to be legitimate. So, when a phishing email requests information, the recipient often ends up giving it.

Many people believe phishing emails are a thing of the past, but it’s still relevant even in today’s business landscape. In fact, government reports from last year revealed that 79% of UK businesses experienced a breach from phishing. This shocking figure suggests that phishing tactics are only getting more sophisticated. Hackers are now turning to a range of communication tools such as social media, SMS, and instant messengers to target victims.

To combat phishing, your organisation must train its employees to recognise fraudulent communications and requests. Invite external security specialists to conduct key sessions on safe practices to ensure all employees have the same knowledge.

Point out the difference between real requests and phishing requests. For instance, educate your employees that financial exchanges don’t occur via email. It may also help to stay up to date with cybersecurity newsto be aware of any recent trends targeting businesses.

Spear phishing

Similar to phishing, spear fishing is where a hacker targets specific individuals in an organisation to exploit data. This type of cyberattack is typically calculated by sophisticated cybercriminals to access valuable business information. Premeditated and selective social engineering attacks such as these often seek trade secrets which can be then sold at a high price.

The good news is that not every organisation will be a victim of spear fishing due to the isolated reasons for attack. Therefore, the chances of spear fishing are significantly lower in comparison to widespread phishing.

However, many businesses continue to underestimate the value of their data and the possibility of attack, leaving themselves unprotected. So, to secure their devices and help protect your business data, your employees should use multi-factor authentication. This extra step for device and email login will add an extra layer of security to help protect your business data. In fact, many email hosts have added compulsory multi-factor authentication where more than one device is used on one account.

You may also want to consider introducing encryption on all employee workplace devices. Encrypting data remains an overlooked step in business security which can help bar access to data if a breach is attempted through social engineering.

The W-2 Scam

W-2 social engineering scams are a specific type of phishing scam in which an employee is targeted for their tax records. The scammer will submit a request for information while pretending to be a person of authority. This could be your tax advisor, CFO, or CEO.

The primary goal of this scam is to collect the necessary tax information and use it to claim refunds. An investigation of a W-2 scam can take around 5 months before conclusions are made. This is a huge amount of time for an organisation to put aside, therefore affecting your senior team’s priorities and overall productivity. For this reason alone, your employees should be made aware of W-2 scams.

When you have the necessary knowledge, you can easily prevent yourself from being exploited. So, in the case of a suspicious email, encourage your employees to send a message to superiors confirming the request for a W-2. Although it may be daunting, a quick check with the sender can help protect your business and your employees.

Social media phishing

In this type of social engineering, cybercriminals use social media to target employees. They pretend to be legitimate contacts, such as a friend or a distant relative. The exact method involves drawing attention by sending a message about their social media profile. The employee is then manipulated into logging in, which results in the login credentials being divulged.

Once the credentials are exposed, the hacker can use the information for all other accounts that respond to the same.

Prevention is the best protection against social engineering scams

Evidently there are multiple ways in which hackers use social engineering tactics to steal sensitive data. So, the only clear solution is to train your employees on how to identify such social engineering scams and avoid sharing information without verification.

However, setting up IT security protocols can be tough. So, if you’d like to find out more about IT security services in London, please reach out to the experts at totality services today! Or, if you would simply like to enquire about security awareness training for your employees, don’t hesitate to call us for a free, no obligation chat about your requirements.