How to avoid Social Engineering scams

Laptop Social Engineering smartphoneThe more we rely on Laptops and smartphones, the more vulnerable we are to attacks. Photo: Pixabay.com

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How to Avoid Becoming a Victim of Social Engineering

As a country, Norway has experienced its fair share of data breaches. A major threat to cybersecurity in the country is social engineering. Unlike technical hackers, social engineers attempt to use their social skills to gain access to your private files and accounts. Social engineers are always up to date with the latest trends and information, and they use their knowledge to bait you into giving them your passwords. For example, just hours after Amy Winehouse died in 2011, Norwegian hackers were already sending click-bait links on social media. Some of them were even labelled as videos of the singer shown dying. Clicking on these links can lead to the loss of your sensitive data.

 

How Does Social Engineering Work?

There are many different forms of social engineering attacks. Here is an overview of each:

  • Phishing – This is probably the most common method used by social engineers. It involves the recreation of a website to match a similar legitimate one in every way possible. The attackers will then craft an email that supposedly comes from the owners of the recreated website, and in the message, they will include a link to the site. Entering your personal details on the fake site will lead to the hacking of your personal accounts and maybe even your identity.
  • Vishing – This is an old-fashioned but popular hacking method. The criminal will simply call you posing to be a customer care representative or a co-worker, and they will use their knowledge to get you to quickly give them your personal information. In some cases, the hacker will even get you to call them.
  • Baiting – Baiting is another common hacking technique. In this method, the attacker will place an infected USB stick in an open place and hope that a target will pick it up. It may have labels that raise the curiosity of the potential victims. On the internet, baiting usually takes the form of links. Instead of taking you to the requested pages, these links will download malware to your devices.

 How to Defend Yourself From Social Engineering

Here are some tips to help you defend yourself against social engineering:

  • Don’t Reveal Facts About Your Life to Strangers

Many websites require you to answer a security question before resetting your passwords. These are usually things like your best friend, where you grew up, or where you went to school. It is important to keep this information to yourself and maybe just your friends. This information can easily be used to correctly guess your password or even reset it.

  • Generate Answers to Security Questions

There are many apps that can generate maiden names or town names randomly. You should always use these apps and write the answer on a paper book. This is because the questions and answer are always too simple. The names of your siblings, friends, parents, and even grandparents are very easy to find. Using a random name will keep you safe from these attacks.

  • Don’t Use a Single Password in All Accounts

Using a single password makes a hacker’s work too easy. All he has to do is successfully get one of your passwords, and he will have access to all your accounts. Make sure you use different passwords on all accounts, and they should all be hard to guess. Don’t use your name, your birthdate, your pet name, or anything close to you. These are usually the first guesses people make when hacking your accounts.

  • Type the URL

Instead of clicking on links sent through email, you should type the URL to your browser. Alternatively, you can google the official site and click on it. Some emails may seem legit on the surface, but they are not. It is better not to take chances with your data.

  • Determine which of Your Assets Is Most Valuable to Hackers

Social engineers are not interested in your safe or physical goods. They are mostly interested in your information. There are certain details that would help them access your files and steal your information. Sometimes, they will even transfer money from your financial accounts. The best way to determine which information you should secure most is by getting an expert assessment.

  • Be Alert

If you get a message from your distant aunt asking you to send her bail money, you should always question the incident. How possible is it for them to contact you with such requests. Also, if someone is asking too many personal questions, you need to judge their ingenuity. If you are excessively suspicious but unsure, you should hang up and call to speak to a different person. These attackers are usually highly charismatic. If you suspect fraud, you shouldn’t be afraid to strongly ask to speak to someone else.

Using VPN’s to Enhance Your Online Security

You should also consider installing VPN’s to your devices. These apps allow you to communicate privately and safely over public networks. That way, a hacker will not be able to attack your device directly.

Conclusion

Social engineering is a form of online hacking which involves tricking victims into giving out their personal information. Hackers who use this method can erase all your data without writing a single line of code. You can protect yourself from these attacks by continually educating yourself on their tactics. You should also use different passwords in different accounts, and the security questions should be randomly generated. You should also keep your private information within your circle of friends.

©  #Norway Today | Jack Foster

Jack Foster is a blogger for VPN Geeks (who review and compare VPN providers) and has written this article for Norway Today.

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