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What Is Social Engineering?

Social Engineering Security

While you may not realize it, chances are you’ve already experienced some form of social engineering. In a cyber context, social engineering is the art of manipulating online users to divulge private information, such as a username and password.

While hackers employ various strategies, social engineering is often accomplished using something like a standard online verification process or through a similarly unsuspecting method. Fortunately, given the largely non-technical nature of this form of deception, hackers’ success hinges on users’ decision making. By understanding what social engineering is, who is at risk, and how it is typically attempted, you can better defend your information from this evolving threat.

Given that an increasing amount of business and daily life activities rely on digital services, systems, and information, it is important to understand the many forms of social engineering. These attacks can come via email, web browser, or a program users trust. A common approach, termed phishing, involves, for example, a hacker sending an email that explains a fabricated problem, which requires the recipient to verify their personal information to resolve. This type of scam often also includes a warning of what will happen if the user fails to act quickly, thereby encouraging them to do so without thinking. Another frequently used scheme, called baiting, is often seen on peer-to-peer platforms and usually involves enticing users to, for instance, download a popular movie, and in doing so gives hackers access to their information.

While these threats and mechanisms are ubiquitous, online marketing agencies in San Diego point out that users are still in control when it comes to social engineering. To avoid sharing sensitive information, simply slow down, research the information provided in suspicious emails or messages, and delete or reject any unsolicited messages offering help or requesting personal information. As the internet of things evolves, make sure that you evolve with it.

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