Skip to Content

Social Engineering

In a social engineering attack, an attacker uses human interaction (social skills) to obtain or compromise information about an organization or its computer systems. 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.

How do you avoid being a victim?

  • DO NOT automatically click on links, always think twice
  • Be suspicious of unsolicited phone calls, visits, or email messages from individuals asking about employees or other internal information.
  • Do not provide personal information or information about your organization, including its structure or networks
  • Do not send or respond to a suspicious email revealing personal or financial information in email
  • Avoid websites with bad certificates and security
  • Pay attention to the URL of a website
  • Never assume an email is legitimate, always verify
  • 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 and browser

What do you 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.