Social engineering has been a rising issue in the cyber community in recent years with more individuals and more businesses becoming seemingly arbitrary targets of hackers. Social engineering attacks use our own personalities against us where a thief will impersonate a vendor, business, or client to gain trust and access to information.
This low-tech way of defrauding individuals has also spelled success for hackers who are looking to infiltrate large companies. In 2013, retail giant Target found itself in the cross hairs of a widespread and effective attack that cost the company millions of dollars and caused a major interruption in business.
Seeing how a major company like Target can be affected, it’s important for individuals to get as familiar with this scam process as possible in order to keep from undergoing major financial loss.
Social Engineering Fraud Risks
Social engineering fraud may seem like a low risk and an unlikely threat, but all individuals and businesses, for that matter, are at risk. The average cost of a phishing or social engineering attack is more than $21,000. Do you have that much money lying around? What if it happens multiple times? What if the attacker holds on to your information only to try to take more of it later on?
Damage from an attack may not be immediately visible and could take up to a number of months in order to track down. By then, the damage is done and the attacker has moved on. It’s difficult to regain funds when a wire transfer is made and with high-value sums of money tallying up, the damage can completely sink a family.
Reducing the Risk of an Attack
There are a number of steps that can be taken in order to cut down on the overall potential of a social engineering threat.
First, individuals should be suspicious of unsolicited calls that come through as well as emails asking for personal information. In fact, 2019 saw a major rise in spoofing calls from hackers looking to gain access to individuals’ information. If something looks suspicious or you don’t recognize the email address or phone number, it’s best to delete it or report it as spam.
If someone claims to be from a legitimate company or an email comes through from a company,
Try to verify their identity directly with the company. Also, don’t provide personal information or information about yourself as this can be used to access even more sensitive information.
While there is no real tried and true method to completely break away from potential threats, it helps to be cautious and act with more care when something suspicious comes through.