Social Engineering Attacks & How to Prevent Them

Your organization is probably aware of cyberattacks, and most likely, you’ve invested in security measures to help reduce potential vulnerabilities. But unfortunately, there is still a component known as human error. Cybercriminals use phishing scams, impostor schemes, and other forms of social engineering to hack into people rather than equipment or accounts to get access. Therefore, organizations must take the initiative to ensure that their staff is aware of common threat techniques, know how to spot red flags, and understand what a social engineering attack looks like.

How to Identify Social Engineering Attacks

The majority of social engineering attacks share the same characteristics despite taking many different forms (email, text, voice call, social media post, etc.). While each of these characteristics can be found in legitimate communications, if two or more are present in a single message, there is a good possibility that it is a scam. Therefore, you should stop and review to ensure it is not a social engineering scam before responding or engaging with any attachments. 

Is the Communication in Unexpected?

We all get unexpected messages every day, but a scam email is never expected. Depending on how sophisticated the attack is, it might have been perpetrated by a hacker who learned that you were applying for a new mortgage. As a result, the fraudulent message requests sensitive information within a limited timeframe.

Is the Request Unusual?

Often, social engineering demands require the potential victim to take an unusual  action. For example, it can be a request for you to transmit money, access a document, or provide information that has never been requested before.

Does the Message Includes a Sense of Urgency?

Most scams stress urgency to make the victim feel stressed. By expressing a threat of harm—financial, physical, occupational, etc.—the potential victim is pressured to behave impulsively and recklessly.

Does Communication Include a Request for a Potential Harmful Action?

This could be a request to open a document, download a program, click a malicious link, input a password, or send sensitive information. All of these are examples of potentially harmful actions.

How to Prevent Social Engineering Attacks

Social engineering attacks frequently target your company or place of employment to collect confidential information and data. Here are some steps that can be taken to protect your organization and your team from social engineering attacks.

Verify the Email Sender’s Identity

The most common technique used in scams is to pose as a legitimate business to steal victims’ personal information. Attackers often send emails that look like they are from a sender you trust, such as a credit card company, bank, social networking site, or online retailer, especially in phishing attacks. The emails frequently present a convincing narrative to persuade you to click on the malicious link. To avoid this kind of social engineering, you can contact the sender via the information on their legitimate website and ask them to confirm whether they actually sent the message. Also, remember that trustworthy banks won’t email you asking for your authorized credentials or private information.

Multi-Factor Authentication

Strong passwords are an excellent place to start, but they are insufficient. Almost all security experts advise adopting multi-factor authentication (MFA) as well. The process of authentication verifies a user’s identity. Unfortunately, attackers frequently take advantage of lax authentication procedures. MFA reduces the likelihood that a cyber attacker can access an account even if they know the login and password by using at least two identification components to validate a user’s identity.

Test Your Team with Simulated attacks

Test your staff with a simulated phishing attack to see whether they can recognize a phishing effort. Our email security specialists at GTS can create a phishing scam that appears legitimate, deliver it to your workers, and gather responses. Who used the questionable link, and who was aware to immediately delete the email? We can suggest additional security measures and training once we understand how your team responds to a phishing effort.

Your software’s known vulnerabilities decrease as it becomes more up to date, making it more difficult for hackers to infect them. Therefore, turning on automatic updating for your operating systems, applications, and devices is a best practice you should follow.

Commit to Ongoing Security Awareness Training

The best defense against social engineering scams is to educate your staff on all the risks. The more employees are aware of the most frequently employed tactics and the dangers involved in disclosing sensitive information, the better.

As hackers create more complex ways to access your data, security dangers continue to evolve. At GTS, we would love to work with you to find potential vulnerabilities in your defenses and set up security measures to safeguard your company. To learn more, contact 904-606-6011 or send an email to


Paul May