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Cybercrime alert: Tactics to prevent social engineering

Social engineering is by no means a new tactic, but the introduction of emerging technology leaves more and more people vulnerable.

Generative AI tools have been met with both massive enthusiam and profound concern around the possibility for fraud, especially as huge portions of the globe head to the polls in 2024
Generative AI tools have been met with both massive enthusiam and profound concern around the possibility for fraud, especially as huge portions of the globe head to the polls in 2024 - Copyright AFP/File Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV
Generative AI tools have been met with both massive enthusiam and profound concern around the possibility for fraud, especially as huge portions of the globe head to the polls in 2024 - Copyright AFP/File Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV

In the modern age, with the expansion of digital technology, it is  paramount to safeguard yourself against social engineering. Thus is not just for your private data only but for your company’s information too.

Once a scammer has your secure information, they can often access other aspects of your data.

But what is social engineering?

Social engineering is a technique used by scammers to gain access to a user’s credentials by eliciting the information directly from the user. This is usually done by pretence, with the scammer posing as an authority or credible figure. Social engineering relies on a manipulation of a person’s ability to trust.

Social engineering is by no means a new tactic, but the introduction of emerging technology leaves more and more vulnerable to falling prey to ever-increasing sophisticated attempts.

One of the most important things to remember when engaging online is to be hesitant to trust, according to a review undertaken by researchers at Coin Insider.

Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and bots can be used to craft communication to align exactly with the tone of a person you know or trust.

Combatting social engineering

In terms of combating this threat, it is good advice to keep your online and private data offline as much as possible.

Where possible, the advice runs:

Verify before Trusting: Rather aim for scepticism than risk an attacker gaining access to your credentials. Before continuing any online engagement, verify the legitimacy of any entity that engages with you first, no matter the channel. Cross-check details thoroughly.

Be Cautious of Emotional and Urgent Requests: A sense of urgency coupled with an emotional appeal can derail a person’s rational decision-making. Resist acting to any pressure tactics and take a patient, slow approach to someone looking for information. Many attackers will look for a quick score and authentic communication platforms are less likely to create any urgent compliance.

Stay Informed and Up to Date about Attacks: Knowing what to look out for can make spotting these attacks easier to avoid. Awareness of the common tactics can also help others. If you see any suspicious activity, share it with your company, family, and friends.

As a further warning, some companies will use real-world scenarios of successful social engineering attacks to showcase the methods commonly used.

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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