Press "Enter" to skip to content

Social Engineering and Phishing

Hackers have to get close when they are carrying out an attack. They will try as much as possible to avoid getting noticed and take on identities that will not arouse any suspicion. Hackers will also be very friendly when looking for ways to penetrate any company or business they target. The company that is being targeted will receive a lot of friendly emails and phone calls, all to lower their guards.

The hackers will use approaches such as social engineering and phishing to gain access to information systems. Social engineering is one of the main ways that hackers use to insert Trojan horses into company structures. Organizations that have been victims of social engineering attacks found themselves making changes to their information systems without being aware of it.

Phishing is also being used by hackers to not only target companies but individuals like you and me. A phishing attack impersonates the companies and websites that you have been interacting with in the past. Without you noticing, you will be able to provide your private credentials to the hackers through the website made to be a replica of the website you are used to using.

If you use online banking, a phishing attack can be used to steal your login credentials which the hacker will use to access your bank account and steal your money. Phishing is a technique that hackers use to steal login credentials from companies and businesses. Being aware of these methods of attacks is an important step to staying aware of hackers and stopping them in their attacks. It is also better to stay informed of the dirty tricks that hackers use to keep yourself and your friends safer whenever they conduct business on the internet.

Social Engineering

Social engineering is one of the methods that hackers use to gain confidential information from your employees. With various social engineering tricks, the hackers will be able to convince you to be someone else. Once they are sure that you perceive them as who they present themselves to be, they will use the relationship you have with that person to act for favors.

Learning the signs of such attacks is important for the modern company as they will prevent attacks before they can occur. Additionally, the hackers will be able to do more than ask for information when carrying out a social engineering attack on your company. A social engineering attack is part of a broader hacking plan, and it is not as intrusive as the other attacks.

A social engineering attack is meant to be as friendly as possible. The person claiming to be someone else will be full of apologies when they call to ask for a favor. They will also try to drop other names while carrying out the attack to reduce the attention on them. As such, they will get the information or favor they were looking for without arousing any suspicion.

Most of the time, social engineering attacks are used to test the policy and regulations in a company. They test whether the company has enforced the company’s privacy policies that prevent the employees from revealing information unless proper authentication has been done. The social engineering attack aims to bypass the rules and regulations in place and take advantage of relaxed rules to carry out the attack.

silver laptop on brown wooden table
Photo by XPS on Unsplash

Using the information gathered from the reconnaissance phase of the hack, the hackers will be able to set up a social engineering attack on the company without raising any suspicion. The hackers will try to use the information on their hands to craft identities or make credible references when they carry out their attack.

For instance, the hacker might mention several names and ranks in an email to prevent further checks from being made on their identity when requesting something from the company. The mentioning of the names will take advantage of the authorities that these people have, which is one of the main strengths of social engineering.

Social engineering takes advantage of people’s perceived social connections and impressions between themselves to create trust. By obtaining the trust of the recipient of a message, the social engineer will make them do something without following proper protocol. At the end of the line, the other guy at the end o the line might pretend to be in a hurry and claim that something is wrong at their end.

They will then ask an employee to access some information quickly on their end, which, given the hurried nature of the circumstances, will be done without any question. The social engineer will then thank the employee profusely for the favor and ask them to have a good day. The employee will not suspect anything and will not even think about having passed the information.

Psychology is heavily used in social engineering attacks to make people do things without being authorized. Using the power of psychology, the social engineer can make themselves seem irrelevant to the employee in a very short time. At the end of the call, the employee will not even remember the call or even attempt to follow up. The perceptions that people tend to create about others will be taken advantage of in such attacks.

The hackers will provide the information and let the other person make the connections for themselves. As such, the attack will have been initiated in a reverse manner, starting from the victim of the attack. The hackers will not have to put much effort into the attack as the information they will have provided the victim will be enough to create the impression that they are credible people.

Social engineering attacks are used to carry out many things and major steps in a hacking attack. Whenever the hacking team has run into a challenge when trying to gain access to an information system, social engineering will be used to get rid of the blockades on the way, allowing the hackers to proceed with the hack.

Any hurdles that are in the hacker’s way can be easily removed or bypassed by a simple social engineering attack. For instance, if the IP rules in the internal corporate network do not allow the hacker to access the network, social engineering will be used to bypass the network. The network will be slightly modified to ensure that the hacker can get into the system and proceed with the attack.

Social engineers can even pretend to be specialists in the information systems used by a company. Using the information they had gathered from the research stage, the social engineers will pretend to be the technical team from a support company. They will then ask for access privileges to the computers used by the company to gain remote access.

The hackers will then use remote access to these computers to change the details on their own or install remote rootkits on these computers. Hackers will always take on many identities when they are carrying out a social engineering attack. None of the identities will be used twice to avoid any suspicion and ensure the effectiveness of the social engineering attack.

The company’s employees will not suspect an IT technician who calls in asking for a change in the firewall policies on a company in use. The technician will even go as far as providing the steps needed to deactivate the firewall or lower the security restrictions that are in place. They will do this in a matter of minutes, and claiming that the change that is being made is urgently needed, they will get what they want and go on with the rest of the cyber attack.

Social engineering is the most sublime means of gaining access to people’s emotions and take advantage of their human nature to carry out cyber attacks. As long people trust certain people and have already established relationships with other companies, they will not hesitate to carry out favors for them or give them the information they need when they call.

Not all social engineering attacks will coerce people into making changes to their firewalls or spam filter. Sometimes, the social engineering attack will be to ask for information that is not publicly available. It might start with a simple phone call asking if a certain employee is in. If the employee is absent, the social engineer will ask the other employee to do something quickly. Thinking that the absent employee would have done the same under similar circumstances, there will be no hesitation with carrying out the orders.

man siting facing laptop
Photo by Clint Patterson on Unsplash

Once the social engineer has obtained the information they wanted or made the configuration changes that they desired, they will thank the victim and even elongate the conversation a little bit to ensure that the employee does not bother to follow up. They will then identify themselves under any of the fake identities that they have managed to craft up from the information they had collected. Once this is done, the victim will fully trust the social engineer, and they will not be any worried about the consequences of what they have just been coerced into doing.

The identities created for social engineering attacks are only used once, and they are never repeated. The hackers will also make an effort to make use of accurate information which they have gathered from the social media profiles of the people they intend to impersonate. The information might come in useful in the course of the social engineering attack as they will begin mentioning names and other information such as the schedule for the day.

When they do this, the victim will no longer be on alert about the nature of the inquiry that is being made. They will also more readily provide information when the conversation is a friendly one and mentions true and verifiable things about the person being impersonated. For instance, an IT technician calling in to have their credentials changed will claim to be attending an event that they had liked on Facebook.

The unsuspecting victim, remembering the event from their social media feeds, will not bother to ask any more questions but will go ahead with the request that the social engineer has made. Social engineering attacks are known to have a high success rate and rarely get noticed.

Social engineering can also be used to create an attack channel that the hackers will use. For instance, partner companies known to provide a given company with IT and cloud services can be used in the attack. The social engineers will contact these companies claiming to be the said victim. They will even make efforts to reroute the call so that the number that appears on the other end can be trusted.

The social engineers will then ask for changes to their service or even create a new service on the same services that are used to host the information that belongs to the company. For instance, a cloud storage service provider that a company uses to keep backups of their information might receive a call from the social engineers asking for a copy of the backups to be emailed to their specified address.

Given the nature of the social engineering attacks, the other company might be duped into sending the information that has been requested without asking for verification. This means that social engineers will have all the information they need even without breaking into the systems and hacking into the databases.

Social engineers can obtain information that hackers would have to spend a lot of time and effort to get. The social engineers will use the human nature of interactions to get the information they need. At the same time, the hacker will have to deal with many code and different system configurations to obtain the information they need. Social engineering is more deadly than hackers as it is successful most of the time.

Social engineers can carry out and achieve a lot more than what the hackers would achieve. The approach taken by social engineers makes it possible to make the scenario look as they would like it. For instance, they can make a phone call appear urgent when they need to obtain highly confidential information. In other cases, they will try to make the call as friendly as a possible and sound professional to impersonate a company that provides the business with services.

IT support is one of the common pretexts that social engineers use to access systems and obtain the information they need. They can also use the access they get to install rootkits and worms into the computers they access. Once the rootkits are installed, they will access these computers remotely, download databases, modify information, and use them to hack other computers in the network.

Social engineering is one of the approaches used by hackers to gain access to information systems and hack into the administrative structure of any organization they target. With social engineering, hackers can easily establish a silent presence in the companies they intend to hack into. This will enable them to reduce any suspicion and reduce the time before the hacking is detected.

By this time, they will have done the damage they wanted and steal information from the systems once they are done hacking them. The hackers will also make use of social engineering to distract attention from what is happening. By suppressing the company’s reaction, they will be able to propagate the attack to a greater level before it can be stopped.

Social engineering is prevalent in the early stages of any hacking attack, and the hackers will always rely on social engineers to gain a hold of the information systems being used by the company they want to hack.

It is important always to be aware of social engineering attacks and the various forms they take. Phone calls and emails claiming to be someone do not mean that they are legitimate. Two-factor authentication and verification are some of the means and methods used to counter social engineering. They are used to confirm the identity of anyone who initiates a conversation or tries logging into a restricted information system.

These measures ensure that the hacker will not log in even if they happen to have the passwords to the systems they intend to hack into. Two-factor authentication has been known to protect systems even when the password has been brute-forced into the system. A correct password does not always guarantee access, especially when two-factor authentication has been enforced on the information system being used by the company.


Hackers have been increasingly using phishing to obtain information of a confidential nature from unsuspecting victims. Phishing attacks are intended to steal information from victims, and they come in the form of websites and web forms. The user filling in the web form will not be able t notice the difference between a genuine website and a fake website.

person using phone and laptop
Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

As such, they will fill out correct information, which will merely be used to gain access to genuine information systems. Hackers have been known to use phishing attacks when they need to coerce passwords out of people.

Phishing attacks are made through websites and web services that the victims have been using for a long time. For instance, the websites we access when we need to pay our bills are used for phishing attacks. Usually, some details about the websites used in phishing attacks are familiar or convincing in some way.

The hacker will make use of a domain name that presents the nature of the service that the hacker is providing. The hacker will even copy an entire website and rebuild it from scratch to carry out a phishing attack.

Typically, a phishing attack begins with creating a website that will steal information from the victims. This can be a betting website, insurance provider website, banking website, and other websites that offer online services of a confidential nature. The hacker will take their time to create a very similar website to the genuine website that the victims are used to visiting.

For instance, a banking website or login page will be cloned and redesigned to be as close to the original as possible. The cloning takes time, but it is intended to provide a genuine impression to the victim once they visit the website.

Once there is a clone of the website ready, the hacker will go-ahead to host it under a domain name that looks almost similar to the domain that is used by the actual website. They will try to look for a domain name that can look like the original one. They will even make a spelling mistake when picking the domain name to avoid any suspicion.

When the victim looks at the domain name when they visit the hacker’s link, they will see something that is familiar and will not suspect anything. Hosting is the second and most important step in getting a website online that will steal information from the victims.

An additional step when hosting the clone of the website is to create a place to store the data that the unsuspecting victims will volunteer. This can be a simple database or a script that sends an email to the hacker with the victim’s information. In other cases, the phishing website can be used in a man-in-the-middle attack. In this attack, there will be a script running in the background that will be used to access the genuine website with the information from the victim.

A copy of the information will be made, and the credentials will be used to access the genuine websites on behalf of the victims. If the credentials are correct and they have logged in successfully, the victims will be redirected to the genuine website complete with their details. This is intended to prevent any suspicion and ensure that the victim does not suspect anything after providing their credentials to the hacker.

Once a website and means of collecting the information from the victim have been established, the phishing attack is not in its main stage. The hacker will have to make the victims visit the website through various means. The most typical way hackers will ensure that victims can visit the phishing website is by sending them email messages. The emails will be sent from a web service with a domain name that sounds similar to what it is supposed to represent.

The victim will open the link and proceed to try and log into the services provided on the link. Suppose the victim has successfully provided the information. In that case, they will be redirected to the genuine website, or if the hacker had set up the attack in a hurry, an error page would cause the victim to close the page and maybe try later.

Website links are also used to redirect people to phishing pages. The links will be used to take the unsuspecting victims to a replica of a betting website and attempt to make them log in. once the hacker has obtained the information they needed, they will redirect the user to an error page or an out of service page, which will be an indication of an interruption in the services. The unsuspecting user will not even bother following up but provided they had given their credentials, they have already been hacked, and the hacker will be smiling to the bank.

Once the hacker has the credentials, they will log into the websites they had stolen credentials for. They will then proceed to empty the accounts that they have stolen and even change the passwords. This will make it harder for the victim to follow up, and by the time the bank is alerted of the attack, the hacker will already have cleared their traces and moved on.

Phishing attacks can also be used to steal passwords from company employees without changing anything. As long as the hacker has passwords to the web applications used by employees in a targeted company, they will be able to do anything they want with the information systems.

Phishing attacks are mainly used to steal information from unsuspecting employees when they think they are accessing the web applications they have been used to. As long as the interface of the web applications they are redirected to when they click on email link look familiar, they will not hesitate to enter their credentials and attempt to log in.

Once they have given out their credentials, the hacker will already have obtained the information they need. They will redirect the employees to an under maintenance page or other appropriately detailed pages, which indicates a temporary error with the web application and should try later. The employee will close the tab for the moment and not bother about the details they have just given to the hacker.

There has been a huge growth in phishing attacks, and these attacks are even getting worse. With the information that the hackers can obtain from their attacks, the ransom is being asked from the victims. Ransomware is getting upgraded with phishing being used to steal confidential information, which is then turned into valuable details that will have to be paid to avoid leaking to the public or getting sold to other parties.

Ransomware takes on the same form as phishing attacks, except the intention of these attacks are much worse. The ransomware attacks hold the information hostage and use it to negotiate a deal with the owners of the information. The hackers who use these methods to get money from the victims usually run call centers and run very bad scam syndicates.

black and gray laptop computer
Photo by Raphael Nogueira on Unsplash

Staying aware of these attacks is not enough, and as a company, you must put measures in place to control phishing attacks. The emails that your employees receive should be filtered and monitored to ensure that all the links in the email messages are first scanned before they can be opened. Some of the browsers that we use these days have advanced security mechanisms that will indicate a phishing website ahead.

These warnings are very useful whenever someone has clicked on an unsafe link and ensures that they do not give away their information without intending to. Chrome browser is known to have several safe browsing features that will always warn the users when they are headed to unsafe websites and suspicious links using the web browser.

Staying Safe from Social Engineering and Phishing Attacks

As an individual or a company, you can stay safe from social engineering and phishing attacks using several methods. These methods will ensure that you are always safe, and whenever there is something suspicious taking place, you will be able to get alerted early enough. Phishing attacks are also easy to protect against. Still, all these measures are useless when there are no clear policies and habit changes that will prevent reckless clicking on links on websites and in email messages.

Whenever you receive an email message, it is important that an anti-virus application first scans the message. Software applications such as Eset, Kaspersky, Norton, and Sophos have these capabilities and will ensure that all your incoming email messages are scanned thoroughly. With their vast database of phishing websites that keeps being regularly updated, the antivirus applications will find a match for a phishing website in seconds.

As such, it will be able to mark the website as a suspicious one, and you will be able to know that you are visiting a phishing website. These applications are important, and as an individual or company, you must install these applications on your computer systems.

woman holding black smartphone near silver macbook
Photo by Pickawood on Unsplash

Antivirus applications have web scanning capabilities, and they will be sure to monitor all your activities on the internet. As you visit various websites, you will note which of the websites contain unsafe links. You will also get warnings whenever you try clicking on links that have been marked as being unsafe. Additionally, any pop-ups that will try to open themselves when you visit certain websites will be blocked when you use approved antivirus applications. You must have a good antivirus application installed as it will also double up as the firewall software for you.

Keeping your network security will also be recommended to prevent phishing attacks from happening to you. A good network defense strategy will ensure that all the incoming traffic is filtered and there are no unwanted messages and emails that can make it past the firewalls. It is important that you also regularly update the firewall and antivirus software. The updates will ensure that all the patches that need to be added to your software are included on time.

Additionally, the regular updating of the applications that you use on your computer will also ensure that you can keep yourself safe. The latest versions and releases of the software that you use on your computer and other devices have the latest updates and patches included in them. They are better than the software you are currently using, and they will keep your information much safer.

Lack of updates has been a major security issue for many people and the reason they are often unable to defend themselves in the event of many cyber attacks. Whenever someone does not update their security software, hackers will use known vulnerabilities that have not been patched up to gain access to your computer system.

Social engineering attacks are more complicated, and staying safe from these can be a lot harder. However, you can improve your defenses by ensuring that you have tighter restrictions in your company. You can also improve your company policy to ensure that the employees do not give out information without recording the recipient’s identity somewhere or approving their identity through some other means.

You can also limit the flow of information to the outside by limiting who has the information in the first place. This means that social engineers will have to work their way up the ranks to get any useful information. As such, you will have limited access to the information that you use in your company. The social engineers will have a harder time accessing the information. They will be unable to convince any of the company’s upper management to give them the information they need.

Your company can become better prepared for social engineering attacks by informing your employees about these kinds of attacks. Your employees should know what a social engineering attack is and the danger that it presents to the security and privacy of the information that you have in your company.

When the employees are aware of the reality and danger of social engineering attacks, they will be more hesitant when giving out information to people who call or send emails claiming to be related to the company. The employees will be more strict on the people’s identities that call in, and they will always ask for further validation before they can give out any information. Ensure that you have educated all your employees about social engineering attacks to prevent them in the first place.

Additionally, education can also help prevent and reduce the incidences of phishing attacks. When your employees are aware of phishing attacks, they will be able to identify them much faster. Education and making the employees aware of what phishing attacks are will ensure that your company is much safer from such kinds of attacks. The hackers will have to work a lot harder to obtain information of a confidential nature from the employees.

Two-factor authentication can also be enforced for all the services that your company provides. With this form of authentication, the employees will need to enter a code that is sent to their mobile devices every time they try to log into a service. As such, the hacker will be unable to use the credentials even when their phishing attacks are successful.

Password policies are also highly recorded to ensure that employees are changing their passwords regularly. The password rules will ensure that passwords are never reused, and even when someone has stopped using the systems, their credentials are revoked to ensure that they are not used to gain access to the information systems from the outside.

Enforcing these policies will ensure that your employees set new passwords every week and never use the same password twice. They will also set stronger passwords, and they will never reveal the password to anyone. Strong identity management systems can also be used to ease authentication with all the applications that your employees will use in their work.

A Microsoft Surface book updating it's operating system software.
Photo by Clint Patterson on Unsplash

Cybersecurity is a sensitive topic for anyone and any company or organization. One must understand the forms in which the attacks present themselves to be able to defend oneself better. When you know the kind of cyber attacks that are more likely to be meted out on your information systems and infrastructure, you will be able to put protective measures in place much faster.

Social engineering makes use of the human nature of business and professional relationships to lower people’s guards and make them do things or reveal information that they would not be able to under normal circumstances. It is used to steal information from employees at a company by claiming to be other people known to the people who are being tricked.

Understanding phishing is also important as this form of cyberattack has been increasing in recent days. The number of phishing attacks has been increasing potentially as hackers resort to this method to steal credentials from people, modify the information, or steal money from people. In the digital age, phishing is used to gain access credentials for several different web applications and online services, from banking to insurance.

The success rate of these attacks is also alarming and necessitates stronger defense mechanisms. Installing a powerful firewall and one that can scan online activity and emails will be one of the important steps to ensuring that phishing attacks do not make it to your emails. Your online activity can also be protected at every step by using a credible browser and antivirus software.