You’ve probably heard about social engineering, especially with the Cambridge Analytica Scandal, which happened in 2018. The term, social engineering has become more or less the same as manipulation via different social media channels, but there is more to its definition than all these.
Social engineering is an act of mischievously making someone divulge information or doing something, usually via technology. What social engineers do is to take advantage of their victim’s emotional reactions and natural tendencies.
A typical hacker will look for a software vulnerability to access a computer network. A social engineer can pretend to be a technical support person so as to trick an employee of a company into divulging their login details. The hopes to appeal to the victim’s desire to help his or her colleague and, maybe, act quickly and then think later.
To access a computer network, the typical hacker might look for a software vulnerability. A social engineer, though, could pose as a technical support person to trick an employee into divulging their login credentials. The fraudster is hoping to appeal to the employee’s desire to help a colleague and, perhaps, act first and think later.
Is social engineering illegal?
Social engineering is fraud and it is against the law of every country. So, yes, it is illegal and anyone caught in the act will have to face the law.
Social engineering plays a very important role in the significant number of cyber-attacks that are on the rise, however huge, small or sophisticated the crime committed is. However, there is very little known about this tactic. This post feature some key aspects in social engineering that you need to know.
What Are The Social Engineering Crimes Practiced?
The most common social engineering attacks include vishing (phone calls from people who pose like employees from a respected organization), phishing emails, and baiting, where USBs that look legitimate are loaded with malware, and then the creator will wait for the user to plug it into their machine.
Social engineering can also be practiced on social media pages. It is extended to businesses and friend requests on Facebook and LinkedIn, with cyber criminals using these social networks to gain trust so that they can secure data. Most times, the end result of this criminal activity is extortion or theft.
Who Are Targets And Victims Of Social Engineering Criminals?
Anyone can be a target of social engineering irrespective of their age, gender, or status. However, many of their victims are usually intentionally targeted for instance, specific groups, such as;
- Elderly people
- Younger, less experienced people or consumers like first time car buyers
- People who have a huge amount of property and assets
- Persons with a lot of sudden expenses or legal issues. For example, personal injury victims
A very common example of social engineering crime is where the criminal visits an elderly care home or a nursing home. The criminal may interview an elderly person using a fake survey or interview method and get all the person information.
How Do You Avoid Being A Victim Of Social Media Engineering?
You need to protect yourself as anybody can be a target of social engineering, so see the guide below for how to protect yourself from being a victim.
Consider the source
Not all USBs sticks are good. The USB you find might be loaded with malware, just waiting to infect your computer. Also, a text or email from your bank isn’t necessarily from them. It is relatively easy to spoof a trusted source. Avoid clicking on links or opening attachments from unknown sources. Actually, in this days of cybercrime, you should be wise to consider all sources suspicious sources.
No matter how legitimate the email you receive looks, it is safer to open the link in your browser by typing it rather than clicking directly.
Take it easy
Social engineers want their targets to move very fast, without thinking about the fact that the person behind the mail, request, or phone call is a scammer. If you take time to think about it and whether it makes sense, you will be saving yourself a whole lot of trouble.
The story sounds too unusual to be true
Seriously, have you paused to think how likely is it that a Nigerian prince in need of helpwould reach out to you for help? Or, on the other side, that someone related to you is texting you for help while traveling?
Make sure you investigate any requests for personal information, money, or any item of value before you even think of handing it over.There is every possibility that the request is a scam.
Install an antivirus software or a security suite on your computer
You can install Norton security and other security suit on your computer and always make sure they are up to date. Your computer and other devices must be running the latest versions of their operating software. You can set these operating systems to update automatically.
If you have the latest version of these software applications on your computer and other devices, be rest assured that your systems are prepared for even the most recent security threats.
Your email software can protect you from social engineering
Most email programs work to filter out junk mail, including the ones from these scammers. If you think your email software is not doing well enough, quickly search online for how to change its settings.What you need to do is set your spam filters to high so as totake out as much junk mail as it can.
Social engineering is rampant now, and it is everywhere. The best way you can protect yourself against these social attacks is to educate yourself. When you know how the social engineers work and the risk of being a victim, you will know how to stay alert.
The best way to fight against being a victim is not to be a victim at all. These criminals are very smart, so you have to be smart too – even smarter.
Tips To Keep In Mind When Trying To Avoid Being A Victim
Slow down and be calm
These criminals want you to act immediately and then think later. If you receive a message that conveys a sense of urgency or requires immediate action to be taken, or uses high-pressure sales strategies be careful; don’t let the urgency influence you.
Research facts before you act
You can be suspicious of any message that is uncalled for. If the email you receive looks like it is sent from a company you use, do your research. Check the company’s website or find their phone number with a phone directory.
You don’t have to click every link
Find the website yourself on a search engine. You don’t have to click the link sent to you. There are many fake links, and if you are not careful, clicking on those links might land you into big trouble.
Email hijacking is rampant
Spammers, scammers, spammers, and social engineers take control over people’s email accounts. And other social accounts, and this has become so rampant. Once these criminals control an email account, they prey on the trust of their victim’s contacts.
Even when the sender of the message is someone you know, if you are not expecting message from that person or a message with an attachment or a link, check with that person before you open the link or download the attachment.
Don’t Just Download Anything
Be very careful, if you do not know the sender personally, and you are not expecting a file from anybody9even if you know that person), downloading just anything can land you into trouble.
Don’t Take Foreign Offers Serious
If you happen to receive an email from a foreign lottery or sweepstakes, money from a relative you don’t know, or email asking you to transfer money from a foreign country for a percentage, it is nothing but a scam.
How Are Social Engineering Crimes Handled?
Social engineering is illegal, so this crime can lead to serious legal penalties to any criminal caught in the act. Engaging in social media engineering can lead to charges classified as misdemeanors, which can attract fines, jail sentences, and other unpleasant consequences.
In so many cases, a civil lawsuit may come up, especially if the act has caused the victim to lose so many assets or money. This will lead to monetary damages award that will allow the person scammed to be reimbursed for the losses the act has caused.
Do You Need A Lawyer For Help You Handle Social Engineering Cases?
Social engineering crimes are usually very complex and most times, they take place on a large scale. If you are a victim, you may need to hire a criminal lawyer because you will need legal advice, if you believe that you are a victim of social engineering.
Your lawyer can give you all the guidance you need for your claim and can also help represent you at any court proceedings. Your lawyer can also help provide all the tips on how prevent you for falling victim of social media engineering in the first place.
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