When people think of cybersecurity, they generally imagine a scene out of some blockbuster action movie. A hacker types furiously on his keyboard, sweat pouring down his face as some timer slowly ticks down to zero. While these depictions may be entertaining to watch, they certainly aren't realistic to how cybercriminals actually break into an organization.
In fact, many do so by simply tricking the employees of their intended target.
Social engineering is the process of utilizing human error to a hacker's advantage. This can take the form of a phishing email containing a malicious link, getting important information out of someone via a conversation, or even a hacker dressing up as an electrician to gain access to the building. What's more, these attacks are extremely effective. According to a Nuix survey of people at Defcon, around 88 percent of professional hackers use social engineering tactics to accomplish their goals.
Clearly, social engineering poses a huge threat to organizations across the globe. To that end, let's explore exactly how these hacking techniques work, as well as how companies can integrate safety measures into their current digital security protocols.
The most secure organizations have problems
Hackers generally choose their targets by finding the most vulnerable victims and exploiting their weakness. This may conjure a level of safety for those operating in large organizations that have the money to spend on security measures, but past events show that no one is safe from social engineering. For instance, take a look at an experiment run by the Department of Homeland Security.
This test involved dropping USB sticks and computer disks into the parking lots of government buildings as well as those of private contractors. While these storage devices were harmless, such a method would be a perfect way for a hacker to gain access to sensitive information. What the Department of Homeland Security found was astonishing.
A full 60 percent of the people who picked up these sticks plugged them into their computers, TNW reported. What's even worse is that this number jumped to 90 percent if the USB or disk had an official logo on it.
This shows that a hacker can reliably download malicious software onto a company's network with the help of a few cheap USB sticks and a sticker of the company's logo. Clearly, this poses a huge threat to the security of any organization's private data.
Your security plan needs multiple solutions
Like any other endeavor in business, ensuring the security of your company's information is a multi-pronged effort. However, the very clear problems that social engineering poses to the average organization simply cannot be ignored. Therefore, you'll need to take steps to integrate social engineering defenses into your current plan.
To begin, you'll need to constantly train your employees to keep an eye out for suspicious emails. This can be accomplished by test phishing emails sent out over variable periods of time. Every time a user clicks, their action should be recorded and they should receive a message telling them they've fallen for a social engineering tactic. Doing this consistently reinforces the importance of double-checking emails.
On top of this, you'll want to crack down on physical security. This means installing as many cameras as you can afford in all of the entrances and exits of your building. Additionally, you'll want a person in the lobby or near the front door to greet anyone who may arrive.
The Inventu Corporation offers a variety of solutions to streamline and speed the IT modernization process. Our innovative Flynet Viewer eases the integration and migration of legacy applications, and our services page provides additional options for those seeking to increase security without sacrificing ease of access.