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Social Engineering Techniques

In the digital maze in which our lives are immersed, technology is not just a tool, but also a portal to connections, information and opportunities. However, this connectivity brought with it a dangerous shadow: social engineering.

As society becomes interconnected and dependent on the exchange of information online and cybersecurity barriers continue to strengthen against known digital threats, criminals have developed even more sophisticated methods to exploit trust and manipulate human instincts that is the weakest link in the security chain. This technique that explores human psychology provokes an intangible battle behind the scenes of cybersecurity.

Social Engineering Concept

Social Engineering is a technique that involves the psychological manipulation of groups or individuals in order to obtain confidential information, access systems, carry out specific actions or influence behavior. Unlike traditional engineering, which focuses on the manipulation of physical and technological systems, social engineering involves the exploitation of human and social vulnerabilities to achieve objectives.

What does a Social Engineer do?

Social engineers often seek to take advantage of trust, curiosity, fear, compassion, and other human emotions to persuade people to act in ways that may be beneficial to themselves and harmful to victims. This includes tactics like:

Créditos: UPX
  • Identity forgery;

  • Manipulation through deceptive conversations;

  • Exploration of organizational hierarchies, among other methods.

It is important to mention that there are Social Engineers who act ethically and who also work for companies!

Some Social Engineering Techniques

There are several social engineering techniques, discover some below:

  1. Pretext: A convincing story or excuse to gain access to restricted information or locations is created by social engineers, who may pose as technical support employees, delivery services, or other trusted identities.

  2. False authority: Often, to convince victims to obey their instructions, social engineers pretend to be managers, supervisors and even authority figures.

  3. Social engineering based on emotional influence: Social engineers use the manipulation of human emotions such as fear, compassion or urgency so that victims cooperate with what is desired.

  4. Baiting: Social engineers offer a reward or incentive (such as a USB device containing malware) for victims to perform actions that compromise their security.

  5. Quid pro quo: Social engineers offer something in return to get victims to give in to what they want. This includes promises of assistance, benefits or advantages in exchange for specific information and actions.

  6. Phishing: This technique consists of sending false emails or messages that appear to be from legitimate sources, such as well-known companies or organizations. These messages often ask victims to click on malicious links or provide private information..

How to protect yourself

Both individuals and organizations can take several steps to defend themselves against social engineering. See below some of them:

1. Awareness and Education:

  • Become aware and educate yourself about the different types of social engineering attacks and their characteristics.

  • Stay up to date on the latest tactics and techniques used by criminals.

2. Identity Verification:

  • Always verify the identity of people requesting confidential information or important actions.

  • Use secure and reliable communication channels to validate people's identities.

3. Protection of Personal Information:

  • Limit the amount of personal information shared on social media and other public media.

  • Be aware of what information is publicly available about you or your organization.

4. Security Policies:

  • Organizations must implement strict information security policies that address protection against social engineering.

  • Train employees to recognize signs of social engineering attacks and how to respond to them.

5. Be Wary of Unexpected Requests:

  • Be skeptical of unexpected requests for confidential information, money transfers, and other actions.

  • Check directly with the source through a trusted channel before taking action.

Despite the forms of defense mentioned above, it is important to understand that social engineering is very sophisticated and convincing. Therefore, remaining vigilant and up to date on security practices is essential to minimize risks. It is not just limited to the virtual world but also plays a significant role in real-world scenarios.

Therefore, individuals, organizations and governments must adapt to the practices and strategies employed by social engineers, strengthening cybersecurity and promoting a safer digital society.


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