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Did you know that social engineering is one of the top cyber crimes? In fact, it’s estimated that social engineering scams cost businesses billions of dollars each year. What is social engineering cyber crime, and how can you protect yourself from becoming a victim? Read on to find out.

What is Social Engineering?

Social engineering is the act of manipulating people into revealing confidential information or performing certain actions. It capitalizes on human trust and gullibility and often takes advantage of people’s natural tendency to want to help others. Social engineering attacks can be conducted over the phone, through email, in person, or even through social media.

The goal is usually to gain financial data, but it can be anything of value. It’s a type of security threat that targets the human element rather than the technical aspect of an organization. 

Individuals cannot anticipate when they will fall victim to a social engineering attack. Cybercriminals hope to catch victims off-guard when they are not paying attention to cyber threats.

In most cyber-attacks, social engineering is the starting point. Learn how to defend your organization from this most significant threat with Jumpstart Security! 

How does social engineering work?

As with most manipulation methods, social engineering builds trust – false trust, that is – and persuasion second. Generally, a successful social engineering attack involves four steps:

  • Preparation: 

Social engineers gather information about their victims, including where they can contact them through social media, e-mail, or text messages.

  • Infiltration: 

By impersonating a trustworthy source, social engineers approach their victims and collect information about them to validate their identity.

  • Exploitation:

Using persuasion, the social engineer asks for information from their victim, such as account logins, payment methods, contact details, etc., that they can use to commit their cyberattack.

  • Disengagement:

A social engineer stops communication with their victim, commits their attack, and leaves the scene quickly.

Depending on the type of social engineering attack, these steps can take anywhere from a few hours to several months. Knowing the signs of a social engineering attack will help you spot one and stop it.

How to detect a social engineering cyber crime attack?

Social engineering attacks are becoming increasingly common as criminals realize that they can often be more successful in fooling people than breaking through computer security systems. 

While social engineering can take many forms, some common red flags can indicate that you are being targeted. 

For example, be wary of unexpected requests for personal information or urgent requests for action. Be especially suspicious of anyone who tries to evoke an emotional response or play on your fears, as this is often used to manipulate victims.

 If you suspect that you are being targeted by a social engineering attack, the best thing to do is to carefully consider the request and verify its authenticity before taking any action. 

Don’t be afraid to ask questions or seek assistance from others if you’re not sure whether something is legitimate. Remember, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Most Common Attack Techniques of Social Engineering Cyber Crime + Prevention Tips

Attackers use various techniques to exploit human psychology and trick victims into revealing sensitive information or granting access to systems. Some of the most common social engineering attack techniques include:

Phishing is a type of social engineering attack that involves sending emails or other messages that appear to be from a trusted source to trick victims into revealing sensitive information or clicking on malicious links. 

Phishing emails look like they come from a legitimate source, such as a company or financial institution. The email will often contain a link or attachment that, when clicked, will install malware onto the victim’s computer. Phishing attacks are difficult to defend against because they prey on human trust and curiosity. 

How to protect against phishing attacks?

The best way to protect yourself from phishing attacks is to be suspicious of any email that contains links or attachments, even if it looks like it comes from a trusted source. If you’re unsure whether an email is legitimate, don’t click on any links or open any attachments. Instead, contact the sender directly to verify the message. By following these simple steps, you can help protect yourself from falling victim to a social engineering attack.

  • Scareware

Scareware is a type of social engineering attack that uses fear to trick victims into giving up personal information or paying for fake security software. 

The name comes from the fact that these attacks usually involve fake messages or pop-ups that warn the user about a security threat, such as a virus or malware infection. In some cases, the message may claim that the user’s personal information has been compromised. 

The goal of scareware is to trick the victim into taking action, such as clicking on a link, downloading software, or entering personal information. Sometimes, attackers will also use Scareware to lock users’ computers and demand a ransom payment in order to unlock it. 

These types of attacks can be very costly and difficult to recover from, so it’s important to be aware of how they work and how to protect yourself from them.

How to protect against scareware?

  • Pretexting

Pretexting is a social engineering technique that relies on creating a believable scenario to obtain private information from a target. The pretext can be as simple as pretending to be a friend or colleague, or it can be more elaborate, such as posing as a research investigator. In either case, the goal is to convince the target to disclose sensitive information that can be used for fraud or identity theft. 

Pretexting is often used with other social engineering techniques, such as phishing and spear phishing. It is also popular among scammers and con artists, who use it to obtain personal information that can be used to steal money or commit other crimes.

How to protect against pretexting?

A few simple steps can be taken to protect against pretexting attacks. First, never give out personal information in response to an unsolicited request.

Second, verify the identity of anyone who claims to be representing an organization before giving them any information. third, do not click on links or open attachments from unknown sources. 

Finally, report any suspicious activity to the authorities. By following these simple guidelines, you can help protect yourself from becoming a victim of pretexting.

  • Baiting

 Baiting is a social engineering attack technique that uses physical devices, such as USB drives, that contain malware or other malicious content.

This attack is often used by hackers to infect a computer with malware or steal sensitive information. There are several ways in which a baiting attack can be carried out.

For example, a hacker may leave a USB drive containing malware in a public place, such as a parking lot or library. An unsuspecting victim may then pick up the drive and use it on their computer, infecting the machine with the malware.

Another way to carry out a baiting attack is to send an email that appears to be from a reputable source, such as a bank or online retailer. The email may contain a link redirecting the recipient to a website containing malicious content. Once the victim visits the website, their computer may be infected with malware or be prompted to enter sensitive information, such as their credit card or social security number.

How to protect against baiting attacks?

Baiting attacks can be difficult to defend against because they rely on human curiosity or trust. However, some measures can be taken to reduce the risk of falling victim to this type of attack. 

For instance, users should know the dangers of opening email attachments from unknown sources or downloading files from public places. 

In addition, organizations should consider implementing security measures, such as encryption, that make it more difficult for hackers to access sensitive data.

  • Tailgating

Tailgating, also known as piggybacking, is a common form of social engineering. It occurs when an unauthorized person follows someone who has access to a secured area in order to gain entry. 

This type of attack is often used by criminals to gain access to buildings or secure areas without having to go through normal security measures. In some cases, tailgaters may even be able to bypass security altogether. 

While tailgating can be used for malicious purposes, it can also be used for less nefarious reasons, such as when someone forgets their keycard and needs to get into their office. Whatever the reason, tailgating is a serious security concern and should be prevented. 

How to protect against tailgating attacks?

There are a few things that can be done in order to prevent tailgating, such as installing turnstiles or requiring ID badges for entry.

 However, the most effective measure is education and awareness. By educating employees and visitors about the dangers of tailgating, we can help to reduce the incidence of this type of social engineering attack.

  • Pharming

Pharming is a type of social engineering attack in which hackers redirect users to a fake website that looks similar to the site they intended to visit. 

The goal of pharming is to steal sensitive information, such as login credentials or financial information. Phishing is a similar technique but relies on email instead of website redirection. Both pharming and phishing are becoming more common as hackers become more sophisticated. 

How to protect against pharming attacks?

There are several ways to protect against pharming attacks: 

  • Install a firewall: This will help to block incoming traffic from known malicious websites. 
  • Keep your operating system and software up-to-date: This will ensure that you have the latest security patches installed. 
  • Use anti-virus/anti-malware software: This will help to detect and remove any malicious software that has been installed on your computer. 
  • Be cautious when clicking links: Only click links from trustworthy sources, and be sure to check the URL before entering any personal information. 
  • Monitor your credit card and bank statements: This will help you quickly identify any fraudulent activity. 

By following these simple steps, you can help to protect yourself against pharming attacks.

3 Popular Examples of Social Engineering Cyber Crime Attacks

Mispadu Malvertising Trojan

One recent example is the Mispadu trojan, deployed via Facebook ads for fake McDonald’s coupons. When users tried to access the coupons, a zip file containing the trojan was automatically downloaded and installed on their respective computers. 

The trojan then Steal victims’ bank credentials and personal information. This attack is especially worrisome because it can be challenging to detect and often targets high-traffic websites like Facebook. By understanding how social engineering cyber crime attacks work, users can be better equipped to protect themselves from these increasingly sophisticated threats.

Target Data Breach

In the case of the Target breach, attackers used phishing emails to trick a third-party vendor into installing malware on their system. This gave the attackers access to Target’s point-of-sale system, which allowed them to steal credit card details from 40 million customers. 

This breach occurred during the holiday season, resulting in massive financial losses for Target and a huge amount of customer data being compromised.

RSA Data Breach

The RSA data breach was a watershed moment for the cybersecurity industry. 

In 2011, attackers successfully targeted RSA with a social engineering attack that compromised sensitive data related to the company’s SecurID product. 

The fallout from the breach was significant, with RSA having to offer replacement SecurID tokens to all affected customers. The incident also highlighted the importance of user awareness training and proper security protocols, which have become significant focus areas for enterprises in the years since.

Tips for businesses to guard against social engineering cyber crime

To defend against social engineering attacks, organizations need to implement comprehensive security practices:

Risk assessment: 

By determining security risks, enterprises can develop defenses against them. Risk assessments help management understand risk factors that may adversely affect the company.

Policies and procedures: 

A clear and concise policy and procedure should be in place. Employees can use well-defined policies and procedures to protect company resources from cyber-attacks. They should be aimed at mitigating social engineering attacks. Access control, password management, and sensitive user information should be part of a firm policy.

Security incident management: 

Companies must have a comprehensive protocol to manage social engineering incidents effectively. The help desk must be trained to track (among other things) the target, its department, and the nature of the attack. A company can use such protocols to mitigate potential losses by actively managing the risk of a breach.

Training programs: 

In addition to investing in security training programs, companies should keep employees up to date on security threats. Since companies have various departments, training and awareness need to be tailored to each department’s specific needs. Employees can recognize and deal with security threats more effectively with such practices.

Make regular backups of your data:

Should you fall victim to a social engineering attack in which your entire hard drive is corrupted, you must have a backup saved on an external drive or in the cloud. 

Destroy sensitive documents regularly:

The destruction of sensitive documents, such as bank statements, student loan information, and other account information, should be accomplished using a cross-shredder or an incineration receptacle.

Reduce the impact of Data Breaches with Jumpstart Security

Social engineering attacks can be challenging to detect and can have a significant impact on an organization. Jumpstart Security specializes in helping organizations reduce the impact of data breaches. 

Jumpstart Security’s services include:

  • Threat intelligence
  • Incident response
  • Forensics. 

By using Jumpstart Security’s services, organizations can more effectively detect and respond to social engineering attacks. Additionally, we help organizations recover from an attack and prevent future attacks

Ultimately, Jumpstart Security’s services can help organizations reduce the impact of data breaches resulting from social engineering attacks.


Cybersecurity is a proactive strategy; you have to make the investment before something happens to your business, not in response to something happening. Therefore, now is the time to begin. The fact is that small businesses face a relatively high risk of being attacked by cybercriminals, regardless of whether you “feel” like your small business is a target of cybercriminals. 

The majority of potential attacks in 2022 and beyond should be able to be warded off or minimized with a modest investment in cybersecurity defenses.

Is your business looking for an easy way to improve its cyber security? Jumpstart Security offers a wide range of products and services to protect you from cybercriminals. 

Here are some of Jumpstart’s security features if you want a comprehensive cyber security strategy.