How to Recognize Social Engineering 101

Social engineering is the technique of persuading others to divulge personal information by using psychological manipulation. These kind of exploits have existed for a long time, long before the invention of the internet and computers. Criminals employ social engineering approaches because, in contrast to software or hardware hackers, leveraging your natural predisposition to trust is considerably easier to accomplish than software or hardware attacks. The purpose of this page is to provide information on what social engineering is, how it differs from other forms of social engineering, how to spot a social engineering assault, and how to prevent being a victim of social engineering scams.

How to recognize social engineering.

Lets jump right in and discuss the question you've came here to have answered: how to recognize social engineering.[

Being asked to "verify" your personal information.

A tactic used by social engineers is to create an issue that requires you to "check" your details by clicking a link that they have shown and entering information into a form. With all of the appropriate branding and labeling, the link destination may appear to be authentic.

Creating an urgent requirement.

Social engineers will utilize rhetoric that creates a feeling of panic in their victims, in an attempt to compel them to react without thinking. Whenever someone asks you to make an urgent wire transfer, double-check that the activity you're about to execute is genuine before proceeding.

Asking you for help or donations.

[/fusion_text][fusion_text rule_style="default" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" sticky_display="normal,sticky" text_transform="none" animation_direction="left" animation_speed="0.3"]Social engineers may approach people who are kind and nice with requests for donations to nonprofit causes. Social engineers can learn a lot about you by looking you up on social media and seeing what nonprofits, disaster relief efforts, and political campaigns you are most inclined to support.[/fusion_text][fusion_text rule_style="default" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" sticky_display="normal,sticky" text_transform="none" animation_direction="left" animation_speed="0.3"]

Answering a question that you didn't ask.

Social engineers might masquerade as a customer service representative from a firm with which you do business and send a message that appears to be "responding" to a request for assistance. Even if you didn't ask a question at the time, you could take advantage of the chance to acquire assistance with a problem you've been having.

Types of social engineering.

Business email compromise.

Easily the fastest growing and most common form of social engineering.It's possible for an attacker to get someone's email account by buying their username and password on the dark web, breaking their password or phishing them for their login information.The hacker would use this account to start sending emails to people on the account's contact list.  These emails may have links that could spread malicious files if they are clicked, as i f users think a link was sent to them by a friend or colleague, they are more likely to click it.If the attacker gets into an Executives email, they often will send emails to the finance team telling them to make a pressing transfers of funds to a certain bank account. This is how they usually do it. These attacks often work because they make the recipient feel like they need to act quickly, so they don't think about what they're doing and just do it.


When someone gets a phishing email, it will look like it came from a source that the person trusts, like a business or a friend they often work with. Most of the time, the victim is asked to click a link and sign in to one of their web accounts. if someone clicks on this link, they'll end up on an entirely different site. The link has been set up to look just like the site the victim thinks they're on. When the victim goes to the spoofed site and logs in, they've just given the attacker their login information.

The example below shows what a phishing email may look like.


Pretexting is usually conducted physically. The attacker will make up a fake identity and make up a story to get their victim to give out valuable information to the attacker, so the hacker can get their hands on the information.Targeted victims may be told they are beneficiaries of a will from an aunt who recently died. The attacker will tell the victim that they need to show that they are who they say they are by giving the attacker their social security number.An attacker could pretend to be an outside IT auditor and get the security staff at a company to give them private information.


In the same way that phishing uses email and vishing uses phone calls, SMiShing uses text messages to get money from a victim. People tend to trust text messages more than emails, which makes this new trend even more worrisome. The risks of clicking unknown links in an email haven't spread to links in text messages, far too many people don't know what to do when faced with a SMiShing text.This is how it usually works: You'll be charged every day for a service that has been made up. There is a link that lets you choose not to use the service and not be charged for it. It also asks for your personal information so that you can make your choice. If you signed up for a service that you want to cancel, don't pay attention to this message.


When someone calls you and asks for your money, they're phishing, or "voice phishing." Attackers aim to make themselves look like an authority that you know, like a financial institution or government entity, when they try to get your information.Caller ID spoofing allows an attacker to make it look like their call is coming from a reputable source. Most vishing scammers start outside of the United States. Spoofing seeks to earn the trust of the victim and makes them think the caller is who they say they are. They then take the call and believe the caller is who they say they are.

How can I protect myself and prevent social engineering?

Use secure email software to your advantage.

Social engineering attacks, which aim to impersonate your executives, employees, business partners and wellknown internet companies in order to fraudulently collect money or data from your unsuspecting consumers, must be avoided at all costs.Email security software will scan messages entering your inbox for evidence of malware, malicious intent, and impersonation attempts, and it will prevent messages from entering your inbox in the first place if they include any of these indicators.

URL protection software and applications assist in protecting every click your users make on any device they use in order to prevent them from clicking on harmful links.

Identify the information that is the most sensitive to you.

When you understand what information you have that is important to a hacker, it becomes easier to identify what information you need to secure from a hacker.Because your organization's Crown Jewels will be distinct from those of other organizations, it is critical that you carry out this procedure on your own.There is no such thing as a "one size fits all."

Verify the identification of those involved in a transaction or communication.

Make certain that you are working with the person who claims to be who they claim to be. In every day activities, thieves take control of legitimate email accounts and use them to further their nefarious activities It is recommended that you phone the sender to confirm that they did actually send you the message in question if you receive an email request that is out of the ordinary but comes from an email address that you recognize.

Inform and educate your employees.

One of the key steps in preventing social engineering is to raise awareness and information about the problem in general.When your users aren't aware of social engineering threats, you can't expect them to take the precautions that are necessary to keep your business safe.

Maintain calm composure.

To trick their victims into acting quickly, social engineers strive to establish a sense of urgency in them, causing them to ignore any red indicators that they are dealing with someone who is not authentic.Before you do anything, take a deep breath and examine the issue with a clear head before proceeding. As long as the transaction is legitimate, the person on the other side will be understanding and patient with the time it takes you to complete your due diligence.

Check all links.

If you receive a shortened link, such as a link, it is possible that it is

concealing a malicious URL. You can use a link expander to test the link without actually clicking on it. DuckDuckGo, the search engine, has a link expander built right into it, allowing you to view what's behind a short URL.

John Price
Chief Executive Officer
October 6, 2023
5 minutes