Avoiding Social Engineering and Phishing Attacks
What Is A Social Engineering Attack?
Social Engineering is when an attacker uses human skills and their social skills to compromise computers or networks.
How Can I Spot A Social Engineer?
An attacker may seem unassuming and respectable, possibly claiming to be a new employee, repair person, or researcher and even offering credentials to support that identity. However, by asking questions, he or she may be able to piece together enough information to infiltrate an organization's network. If an attacker is not able to gather enough information from one source, he or she may contact another source within the same organization and rely on the information from the first source to add to his or her credibility.
What Is A Phishing Attack?
Phishing is an electronic form of Social Engineering. They use e-mails, chat systems and malicious websites to extract sensitive information from an unsuspecting victim.
What Is An Example Of A Phishing Attack?
Phishing attacks take all sorts of forms and methods, however, the most common phish relates to financial fraud. They will attempt to get your name, address, phone number, social security number and financial credentials.
Phishers tend to use recent public events to lure victims.
-Natural Disasters (e.g., Hurricane Katrina, Indonesian tsunami)
-Epidemics and Health Scares (e.g., H1N1)
-Major Political Elections/Events (e.g., asking for backing for a candidate)
-Holidays (e.g., asking for donations for charity)
How Do I Avoid Becoming A Victim?
- Be suspicious of unsolicited phone calls, visits, or email messages from individuals asking about employees or other internal information. If an unknown individual claims to be from a legitimate organization, try to verify his or her identity directly with the company.
- Do not provide personal information or information about your organization, including its structure or networks, unless you are certain of a person's authority to have the information.
- Do not reveal personal or financial information in email, and do not respond to email solicitations for this information. This includes following links sent in email.
- Don't send sensitive information over the Internet before checking a website's security.
- Pay attention to the URL of a website. Malicious websites may look identical to a legitimate site, but the URL may use a variation in spelling or a different domain (e.g., .com vs. .net).
- If you are unsure whether an email request is legitimate, try to verify it by contacting the company directly. Do not use contact information provided on a website connected to the request; instead, check previous statements for contact information. Information about known phishing attacks is also available online from groups such as the Anti-Phishing Working Group (http://www.antiphishing.org).
- Install and maintain anti-virus software, firewalls, and email filters to reduce some of this traffic.
- Take advantage of any anti-phishing features offered by your email client and web browser.
What To Do If You Think You Are A Victim?
- If you believe you might have revealed sensitive information about your organization, report it to the appropriate people within the organization, including network administrators. They can be alert for any suspicious or unusual activity.
- If you believe your financial accounts may be compromised, contact your financial institution immediately and close any accounts that may have been compromised. Watch for any unexplainable charges to your account.
- Immediately change any passwords you might have revealed. If you used the same password for multiple resources, make sure to change it for each account, and do not use that password in the future.
- Watch for other signs of identity theft.
- Consider reporting the attack to the police, and file a report with the Federal Trade Commission (http://www.ftc.gov/).