Introduction to Social Engineering
You must have heard people complaining about the internet countless times that they have been scammed by some random people they have never even met before. But have you ever wondered what the nature of the scam itself was? Did they give their consent to the scammer, or was it an out-of-the-blue moment where their money was stolen before their eyes without the victim doing anything?
In most cases, these are the social engineering attacks that work by playing with the psychology of the people and tempting them to either give their personal information to a mastermind scammer while taking the message or email received from a genuine or authentic source. This is much like spamming but is a bit more artful than that.
Even if you have not found any acquaintance with social engineering, there is something you can do to make sure that you don’t fall victim to this vicious attack. But before it can happen, you must at first try to understand what this term is and the various afflictions associated with it. Any manipulation that brings into account the use of behavioral psychology to propose a series of steps that have only one goal in mind, which is to scam the person involved one way or the other, can be linked to social engineering.
It might be convenient to think that social engineering is always related to something malicious or criminal in nature, but you would soon find that this is not the case. If you have been acquainted well with the idea of social engineering long enough, then you will find the idea discussed in various areas and fields such as psychology, marketing, and even social sciences. It is the intent of the user that either classifies social engineering as bad or good, and there will be more information available on this very concept moving forward.
Even if you are not falling victim to an online or digital scam and the prospects of social engineering are being practiced in the real world, then it means that somehow you are still falling victim to social engineering. The definition of social engineering doesn’t dictate that the scan must exist online or over digital forums; that is not a requirement for the scam to be classified as a social engineering attack.
But talking about online scams and attacks of social engineering, these fraudulent actors impersonate various authorities and their specialists, claiming to be someone they are not for obvious reasons of scamming people by making them believe that it is the real outlet of that specific IT company or an email that came from that specific crypto market agency which urges the user to hand over their personal information.
Most people who don’t have any idea how to discern between these tricks, unfortunately, fall victim to such schemes only to complain afterward at various social media forums but to no avail. It is true that social engineering exists outside the realm of the Internet, too, but digital technology has made it easier for hackers and cybercriminals to practice such elements. With the launch of cryptocurrencies and the idea getting a bit too strong, it is possible that social engineering attacks will be following this specific niche; more information about this is available as follows.
How Does Social Engineering Work?
Do you know about the single point of failure in all social engineering techniques? That is the incompatibility of people to fall for these tricks, whereas a common denominator in all these attacks is the weakness of human psychology. People want to believe other people despite their best intentions or intuitive thinking not to. This is what makes prospects of social engineering an endearing success.
In all social engineering attacks, there is a sense of urgency created, which means that if the user in question didn’t respond to the request that exists in front of them right then and there, then they will be rubbing their hands off of a very decent opportunity that was once in a lifetime. That kind of urgency ticks people off and makes them want to not only trust the person in question morally but also with their personal and sometimes financial information as well. Fear of people, grade as well as curiosity plays an important role in making social engineering attacks a wild success.
You need to train your mind to do better and to recognize better because if you don’t, then the chances are that most of the time, you are just going to fall victim to such vicious scams. There are multiple methods in place which can help you to detect an attack as either a social engineering scam or a phishing attack so that you would know better not to engage with whatever requests are made from you by the manipulators here.
There will be discussed multiple examples of what a social engineering attack is or what it looks like so that you have a real-world case to affiliate the whole process, and moreover, you will be wiser next time you interact with such an experience.
Phishing is the most common practice, which involves people developing content that is not authentic but it looks like something that is genuine, and only a reputable company or organization would send to their end-user. Emails are the most common practice among phishing attacks because these hackers can mooch off people’s emails pretty easily and then can develop an email from scratch to look like something that will be authentic or, in part, genuine can be done pretty easily.
You can receive a phishing email from any potential source or domain of business. Such attacks can mimic the representation of a reputable online brokerage agency, your own bank, an email provider, or an Internet service provider that you are using at the moment. Sometimes these emails come with some weird attachments as well that make the whole deal look extremely genuine and legitimate; these might have a periodic document placed inside as something that you can click or another file or attachment which makes you want to know more about this specific item and arouse your curiosity.
As soon as you click this attachment simply out of your curious mind to know more about the variety of content that is shared, the file is likely to be malicious in nature, which means that as soon as you click on it, your personal information and more likely your financial information is shared immediately with the attackers. If you have stored a lot of credit card information and personal banking information right there on your computer, then the chances are that it has been scraped off of your computer already.
And the second part of this warning is most likely a penalty; if you don’t do this, then your profile is likely in danger, and you won’t be able to continue receiving the services of the said company or organization. Sometimes you will be asked to simply disclose your identity by uploading a picture of yourself and sharing other personal information such as name, address, or Social Security number; in most cases, and as soon as you do that, you are practically finished.
Some people can’t resist the urge to know more about such a warning that has been shared with them because they can’t even fathom thinking that their personal data would be used for any illicit purposes because, at their heart, they are sharing this information with a legitimate company or organization they have consistent business with. As soon as you fill up all the required fields and hit enter, your information will be shared with the cybercriminals promptly.
To give you an idea about the consistency and focus of a phishing attack, sometimes there are links that are shared within the email, and whenever you click that specific link, you will be landing on an exact replica of a site of the concerned organization or business.
These attackers leave no stone unturned, making you believe that it is the legitimate organization that has approached you, and you shall be prompt in providing whatever information that is being asked within this particular email. Before you know that you have been scammed or you use your common sense to contact the organization at their specific email or phone number to inquire more about the problem at hand, you already have been hacked. Why did this happen, you may ask? Because you were too jumpy and didn’t have any control over your irrational impulses.
The use case of social engineering is not limited to phishing only, as there are other techniques out there that cybercriminals are using to spread fear among noble people and to loot them off their hard-earned money. These types of techniques are abundant in number, so we shall proceed by discussing them one by one; the next is scareware. As the name suggests, it is malware that is designed to basically scare people and shock them whenever they are least expecting it.
Multiple false alarms are triggered in the prospect of a social engineering attack, but scareware is a bit more traumatic because here, an even more daunting revelation of urgency is created. You should download this specific antivirus system right now on your computer; otherwise, you are falling victim to this or that specific malware in a few seconds.
These are some of the advertisements that you might have encountered on the Internet that come under the umbrella of scareware. The pressure of interacting with the revelation that your computer is in imminent danger and, on top of that, working as a cherry on top of the time running outputs extreme pressure on you.
Therefore many people are feeling the need to save their system fall for this specific software-based item only to fall victim to malware. It might look extremely legitimate and unique, or one-of-a-kind software that promises to fetch all the malicious entities from your system but little do those poor people know that eventually, it is going to access their personal and financial information from their computers.
Because of the fact that people are worried that their system might get compromised if they don’t install that specific software, that is why they give it a go and install the fraudulent software on their system. Most people who have some ounce of information or knowledge regarding these types of scams and social engineering techniques would remain at bay from such warnings or software systems altogether.
Social Engineering and Cryptocurrency
If you are entering the crypto market or any other financial market for that matter with greed in your mind, then you are not going to get too far because it is a rather dangerous mixture. People who get immensely greedy usually end up with nothing because they would be pouring out their money in pursuit of making more without giving any heed or attention to the safety metrics in question, thus compromising their trading journey at every turn.
If you are not giving any heed to the opportunity presented before, whether in the crypto market or any other financial market for that matter, then you are destined to doom eventually or fall victim to either a phishing attack or some other scheme that would gulp away all your savings and hard-earned money over the years.
The overall level of excitement that cryptocurrencies generate is extremely lucrative for investors who are in it to get rich overnight. Usually, this means that they are going to invest their money into a get rich quick scheme only to face defeat in the end because these kinds of schemes are destined to fail eventually because it is a pyramid scheme where people are being layered on one by one and the cycle of money is either from top to bottom or bottom to top and eventually either the top or the bottom is going to get screwed.
There is no shortcut when it comes to money; this is the golden line that you should remember at all times and therefore tread lightly within the crypto market because it is not a relatively forgiving space. Cryptocurrencies do have the potential to generate money, and these are also extremely secure entities which actually means that your investment is in safe hands, but at the same time, caution is advised because no matter how to secure cryptocurrencies, are you a human being is not intuitively immune to social engineering attacks.
Suppose you have signed up with a cryptocurrency out there, and eventually you receive an email stating that there has been a potential breach at that very specific crypto agency and your data was compromised. Now to mitigate the situation, the company requires your personal information, such as your name, address, or your social security number, and out of fear; let’s say that you provide it to them; what happens next?
Well, it couldn’t be said more that no legal organization or a financial entity would ever contact you just out of the blue requiring personal information or credentials ever. Now, this is a state of fear, and you have been played by the techniques of social engineering, but when it comes to greed, such as if you are presented with an opportunity that the recent withdrawal that you have made could have been doubled in amount, should you have staked your earnings into a particular mining pool for just three or seven more days what you would feel about it?
Obviously, you would be over the moon, and if you are greedy enough, then you would succumb to these tactics and would allow those people to use your cryptocurrency, never to see it again.
This is how greed and fear work within the crypto market, and unfortunately, some people are only out there to make you look bad or to gain an advantage from your potential weaknesses. In some extreme cases, there is even a demand for ransom, and naturally, many people go for it because they don’t want their hard-earned money to be flushed away from their hands over a petty amount that the hackers are demanding at the moment.
This is yet another social engineering attack because what possible guarantee do you have to reclaim your crypto once the ransom has been paid, there is no guarantee out there, but you still do it, and if the odds are against you, then you have lost not only your crypto but on top of everything else the ransom that you just paid for nothing.
How to Avoid Social Engineering Attacks
Only through proper education and preaching awareness regarding social engineering could you grow out of these elements and develop a better understanding of the game that has been set before you and try your best not to fall victim to these specific scams. Be mindful of what attachments or emails you receive and take a deeper dive into the spelling mistakes and grammar-oriented discrepancies among flagged emails, as these are enough to give away the idea that it wasn’t sent from a legitimate source or company.
Beware of the attachments of emails that you receive, and never click on something that you don’t know or is unknown to you.
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