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How to Avoid Social Engineering Attacks

Cyber Security | December 7, 2023

In an age where technological advancements are rapid, the threats associated with them evolve at an equally fast pace. One such menacing issue that businesses face today is the social engineering attack. That is why our security specialists at Next Hop Solutions have prepared detailed insights into how to avoid social engineering attacks.

What Are Social Engineering Attacks?

Social engineering attacks, at their core, exploit the human element of security rather than technological vulnerabilities. In other words, these attacks focus on manipulating individuals into divulging confidential information, compromising security protocols, or performing certain actions that would aid a malicious entity.

Understanding the Human Element and Security Risks

Before we dive into strategies for defense, it is crucial to understand why humans are often the weakest link in the security chain. We, by nature, tend to trust and help others. Attackers exploit these traits by masquerading as trustworthy entities, using our emotions, or manipulating scenarios to pressure or trick us into giving away sensitive information. Recognizing this vulnerability is the first step in guarding against it.

Here are some common IT mistakes people make that hurt their security protocols.

1. Educate and Train Your Staff

Forewarned is forearmed. Regularly train your employees about the nature of social engineering attacks, their tactics, and the red flags to watch for. Interactive training sessions with mock scenarios can be especially effective, as real-life examples and case studies make the threat more tangible and drive home the importance of vigilance.

2. Establish Strong Authentication Protocols

Two-factor authentication (2FA) or multi-factor authentication (MFA) can drastically reduce the success of a social engineering attack. Even if an attacker convinces an employee to share their password, without the second factor—be it a fingerprint, smart card, or SMS token—they cannot gain access.

3. Limit Information Sharing

One of the tactics social engineers use is “pretexting”, where they gather background information about their targets to make their impersonation more convincing. Make sure your employees know not to overshare on social media or other public forums. Similarly, companies should have policies in place about what information can be shared and with whom.

4. Encourage a Culture of Verification

Employees should be comfortable verifying the identity of anyone asking for sensitive information. This could be as simple as calling back a known company number to confirm a request from a supervisor or IT department rather than acting on an email or unexpected phone call. Ensure that only those employees who need access to specific information have it. This practice can limit the potential damage of a successful attack.

5. Regularly Update and Patch Systems

While social engineering primarily targets human vulnerabilities, it does not mean attackers will not exploit technical loopholes when they find them. Ensure your systems are up to date with the latest security patches and build a robust disaster recovery plan.

At Next Hop Solutions, we recognize the importance of constant security upgrades as well as teaching our clients about non-technical threats. Upgrade your security systems and set safeguards in place by reaching out to our specialists at 1-855-482-5141.


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