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Social Engineering and Phishing

Hacking Humans: Social Engineering and Phishing

Your best network defences and security can be undone with a simple click through social engineering and phishing.

When anyone mentions hacking in conversation they typically conjure up images of the hooded figure in the shadows hacking away at a screen filled with complex code trying to penetrate firewalls and other such defences.

Let me pose a simple question, if you were planning to break into a building, would you scale the high walls, try to pick the locks, disable the alarms and evade the guard dog or would you look at the sleepy security guard on the front desk and try bluff your way past him?

It’s obvious when you put it like this, by far the easiest way into that building is coming up with some ruse to trick your way past the guard who isn’t paying very close attention anyway.

Think Like a Hacker

In order to protect yourself and your business you need to think like a hacker, most of the time the hacker is simply looking for the simplest and easiest route in, they don’t want to start attacking secure firewalls or other complex high risk systems, that is inefficient and time consuming. Hacking and more specifically ransomware is a business and like any business they are looking for simplicity, ease of delivery, trouble free routes to market and not to create additional work and risk for themselves.

Social Engineering and Phishing

Yes, it is certainly true that you should have excellent, well planned and managed security in place but so often it is the case that the one area of cyber security that is neglected is the people. Your staff can either be your weakest link or your strongest defenders.

So how do you upgrade your staff defences? There are 3 simple steps

  1. Education
  2. Education
  3. Education

Educating people on social engineering and phishing is critical, not only will this lessen the chance that an attack will be successful but even if you are breached, your staff will report it quickly and efficiently. The first 24 hours after an attack is discovered are the most important, so the faster you find it the easier you can deal with it and minimize the damage.

Training staff to recognize common signs of social engineering and phishing, such as suspicious email addresses, unexpected attachments, and urgent requests for personal information, empowers them to act as the first line of defense. Regular training sessions and simulated phishing exercises can keep employees vigilant and aware of the latest tactics used by cybercriminals. By fostering a culture of security awareness, employees are more likely to question and report potential threats involving social engineering and phishing.

Prompt reporting is essential for initiating immediate countermeasures, such as isolating affected systems, notifying stakeholders, and beginning the investigation process. An informed and proactive response can prevent the spread of the attack, protect sensitive data, and reduce the overall impact on the organization. Additionally, having a clear incident response plan that outlines specific steps and responsibilities ensures a structured and effective approach to managing security breaches.

Investing in employee education on social engineering and phishing not only enhances security but also builds a resilient organisational infrastructure capable of withstanding cyber threats. Continuous learning and adaptation to new security challenges are vital in maintaining robust defenses against the ever-evolving landscape of cyber threats.

The bonus takeaway here is that not only is education one of the most effective defences you can deploy but it is also the quickest, cheapest and simplest. Don’t become a statistic, invest in training your staff on cyber threats against your business and your people.