What is Social Engineering: How It Works, Types, and Examples

People who have watched Who I must have heard of the term social engineering in the movie, but unfortunately most of them don’t know the meaning of the term clearly. So, let’s find out what social engineering is, how it works, its types, and examples.

Read also: What is franchise escalation?

What is social engineering?

Social engineering is a manipulative technique that takes advantage of human error to obtain personal information, access, or valuables. Social engineering, in the world of information security, is a type of cyber attack that works to make people better off through deception and deception rather than technological exploitation.

These attacks exploit human weaknesses such as emotions, beliefs, or habits to persuade individuals to take actions such as clicking on fake links or visiting malicious websites. While social engineering is less complex than other cyber-attack strategies, social engineering can have disastrous consequences and can often become a weapon for major attacks.

How does social engineering work?

Unlike viruses that rely on hacking techniques or malicious code to deliver payloads, social engineering relies on human psychology. If used properly, it can be leveraged to access data, systems, and even other valuable information.

For example, instead of spending months creating new types of malware, hackers focus their attention on tricking employees into leaking their passwords over the phone by pretending to be IT support technicians. If they talk to the right people and say the right things, they can connect directly to the network.

The security of your network is as strong as its weakest link. The same goes for your workforce. Hackers usually use a number of different techniques to find the weakest links, techniques that focus on our fears, likes, and weaknesses.

types of social engineering

Almost every type of cybersecurity attack involves some form of social engineering. Social engineering can affect you digitally through mobile as well as desktop attacks. However, you can easily run into a direct threat. These attacks can overlap and overlap each other to create fraud. Here are some types of social engineering that hackers often use:

  • catching Attackers start attacks when they leave a malware-infected device, such as a USB flash drive, somewhere someone finds it. It depends on our innate curiosity, it is possible that someone will load the device onto their device and end up carrying malware.
  • phishing Phishing occurs when the attacker makes fraudulent communications with the victim that appear legitimate and safe. Recipients are then tricked into installing malware on their devices or sharing personal, financial or business information.
  • pretext Advance content creation occurs when an attacker creates a fake state to force the victim to grant access to sensitive data or protected systems.
  • swap A barter attack occurs when an attacker requests personal information from someone in exchange for something or some kind of compensation.
  • spear phishing Spear phishing is a type of highly targeted phishing attack that focuses on a specific individual or organization. Phishing attacks use the recipient’s personal information to gain trust and appear more legitimate. This information is often taken from the victim’s social media accounts or from other online activities.
  • the tail Tailgating is a psychological manipulation technique that occurs when an unauthorized individual follows an authorized individual to a previously safe place. The purpose of the link is to obtain property or confidential information of value.

Example of social engineering

Social engineering occurs because of the human instinct to trust. Cybercriminals have learned that carefully designed email, voicemail, or text messages can persuade people to transfer money, provide confidential information, or download files with malware installed on them.

see examples spear phishing This is what convinced the employee to transfer 100 million to a foreign investor:

  1. Thanks to careful research into spear phishing, cybercriminals know that the CEO of the company is on the move.
  2. The email was sent to a company employee who appears to be from the CEO. There is a slight difference in the email addresses – but the spelling of the CEO’s name is correct.
  3. In the email, the employee was asked to help the CEO by transferring $100 million to a new foreign investor. The email uses prompt but friendly language, assuring the employee that it will help the CEO and the company.
  4. The email confirms that the CEO will make this transfer himself, but since he is on the move, he is unable to make the money transfer in time to secure the FIP.
  5. Without checking the details, the employee decided to act. He truly believes he is helping the CEO, the company, and his colleagues by fulfilling email requests.
  6. A few days later, the victims’ employees, CEOs, and partners realized they had fallen victim to a social engineering attack and lost $100 million.

How to protect against social engineering


Ignorance is our greatest weakness as human beings, and it is very easy to exploit, making the uneducated a prime target for attackers. You should make all employees aware of the risks and be familiar with social engineering techniques.

Be careful of the information you give out

This includes verbal and social media. Sites like Facebook and Twitter are a wealth of information and resources, from photos to playable interests. A simple Google Map search for your home or business address provides information to criminals about your location and surroundings.

Ensure the right assets are protected

Make sure to protect the right thing! When determining the most valuable assets to an attacker, make sure you don’t focus solely on what you or your business believes to be most valuable. Online attackers are interested in anything they can come up with.

Implement and follow policies

After determining which assets are most attractive to attackers, and which assets they might use to target them, write a security policy and follow it! In a business context, all employees need to play their part. Each individual is a potential entry point into the business and its assets. It only takes one door to open for an attacker to gain access.

penetration test

Once the policy is implemented, it is time to test it. Sending malicious email under test conditions to a group of users or observing how employees access a building can give you a good idea of ​​whether policies are being followed.

Read also: What is penetration testing: stages and methods

Multifactor authentication

Improving the way users access systems and data can help avoid social engineering attacks. Combining passwords and biometrics, for example, is one way multifactor authentication can beat criminals at their own game.

Always update the software

Attackers using psychological manipulation techniques often detect if you are running an unpatched and outdated program. Tracking patches and updating your software can reduce most of these risks.


So what is social engineering? Social engineering is a technique aimed at persuading the target to disclose certain information or take certain actions for illegal reasons.

Protection from social engineering begins with education. For example, if all employees are aware of the threat, the security of the company will increase. Make sure to raise awareness of these dangers by sharing what you’ve learned. Because prevention is always better than cure

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