Essential Practices for Defense Against Social Engineering Attacks

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Social engineering is one of the few cyber-attack techniques that can generally be classified as non-technical. At the same time, it can be better combined with more technical attacks, such as spyware and trojans.

Organized crime on the internet has been a reality for several years now. Methods for spreading malicious code have evolved from ordinary worms and viruses to tailored malware targeting a specific target organization.

Social engineering attacks rely on human interaction and manipulation to deceive individuals into divulging sensitive information or performing actions that may compromise an organization’s security.

Security Awareness Training For Employees

Having employees who know how to spot social engineering attacks is and will continue to be important to reduce the risk of incidents. Security awareness training is essential in any organization; it helps to educate employees on social engineering, phishing, hacking and more.

This training enables employees to understand a cyber-criminal’s motive and highlight ways to prevent them.

Security awareness training is an essential investment for any company, as it helps to protect against security threats and can have a positive impact on the overall productivity and efficiency of the organization.

Implementing Security Policies and Procedures

These policies and procedures provide a framework for ensuring that sensitive information is kept secure, that employees are aware of the risks they may face and that the organization can respond quickly and effectively in the event of a security incident.

Technology solutions, such as anti-virus software, firewalls and intrusion detection systems, are crucial in implementing security policies and procedures to prevent cyber-attacks.

It is important to regularly review and update these tools to ensure that they can detect and respond to the latest threats. Organizations should also establish a clear set of protocols for dealing with security incidents.

This includes incident response plans, procedures for reporting security incidents and guidelines for conducting security audits. These protocols should be regularly reviewed and updated to ensure they effectively detect and respond to security incidents.

Implementing security policies and procedures is an ongoing process that requires the commitment of all employees and the organization as a whole.

By educating employees, using technology solutions, establishing protocols for dealing with security incidents and fostering security culture, organizations can effectively protect themselves from a wide range of threats.

Regularly Reviewing and Updating Security Protocols

Software updates can be easily skipped as they are time-consuming and may not seem that important. However, this flaw allows hackers to access their target’s private information, putting them at risk for identity theft, financial loss and many other problems.

Software updates often include critical patches to security holes. Hackers’ knowledge of these security holes makes your business easy prey to cyber-criminals looking for a way to access the organization and its sensitive data.

According to a report on AUTOMOX, software vulnerabilities are the leading cause of cybersecurity incidents. In fact, 60% of cybersecurity incidents can be traced back to unpatched vulnerabilities.

This highlights the importance of regularly updating software to ensure all vulnerabilities are addressed and fixed.

Detecting and Responding to Social Engineering Attacks

In January 2022, an advanced phishing attack aimed at stealing Office 365 credentials, with the attackers impersonating the US Department of Labor (DoL).

It was noted that the attack used two methods to spoof DoL’s email address; spoofing DoL’s real email domain (reply@dol[.]gov) and purchasing similar domains, including “dol-gov[.] com” and “dol -gov[.] us.”

These domains were used by phishing actors to navigate through the security gateways of the targeted organizations.

It also notes that the hacker’s emails used official DoL branding and were professionally written to invite recipients to bid for a government project. The purported bidding instructions were contained in a three-page PDF with an embedded “Bid Now” button.

Clicking on the link redirected victims to a phishing site that appeared identical to the genuine DoL site and was hosted at a URL such as bid-dolgov[.]us.

Lastly, as reported, the bogus landing page prompted users for their Office 365 credentials. The page even displayed an “error” message after the first entry to ensure the target had entered their credentials twice, reducing the risk of misspellings.

These attacks can be particularly effective because they exploit the trust and goodwill of the target rather than relying on technical vulnerabilities.

To respond effectively to social engineering attacks, organizations must have robust security policies and procedures in place. Employee education and training are crucial in preventing social engineering attacks, as employees are often the first line of defense against these techniques.


All users with access to a network or system must be aware of these different forms of social engineering, including phishing, baiting, pretexting, scareware, and business email compromise (BEC), to ensure the organization’s cybersecurity.

By implementing these best practices, organizations and individuals can significantly reduce their risk of falling victim to social engineering attacks.

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