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Entry Points Where Social Engineering Can Put Network Security at Risk

Keeping your business data secure is a multi-layered process. You need to protect your network and databases through many steps, and part of that is making sure that your workforce knows how to repel social engineering hacks. Classic phishing attempts are well known to be the primary way that modern hackers gain access to business data. By getting just one employee to click an infected email link or visit an unsafe website by lying to them, hackers can gain access to secure logins, customer information, and even plant long-term spyware or ransomware on your network.

Training your staff to spot and report phishing attempts is a key step to business cybersecurity. And to best defend yourself, your business needs to be prepared to catch social engineering hacks at every possible entry point. This means predicting every path through which a hacker might try to reach out and contact your employees. Keeping in mind that hackers regularly pretend to be coworkers, bosses, customers, vendors, and officials to get what they want.

Email Phishing

The best-known type of social engineering hack is the classic email phish. This is an email sent by a hacker pretending to be someone they’re not. They often use knowledge of the company’s internal email structure to target a specific employee or use a shot-gun technique that is unlikely to be discussed and detected.

In short, the scam includes pretending to be a friend, coworker, boss, or bank representative. Somewhere in the email is a document or link that absolutely must be clicked on. And if your employee clicks, malware will unleash and the company network is at risk.

Therefore all email is a risk. But for a company, there are two approaches to securing this social engineering hack approach.

Employee Email

Companies have a unique amount of power over their own internal email systems. Because you control the email server and the software used to host the email addresses, you can also control the features and protections on employee email. There are scam detection programs you can integrate that will red-flag, block, sensor, or report any email with a common phishing signature.

You can also use software to prevent the transfer of files in emails to out-of-network addresses.

Personal Email

Then there is the risk of employees checking their personal emails at work. You can’t stop people from falling for scams or getting their personal devices hacked in their off-time. But checking email on the job or on company computers can put the whole business at risk. Make sure your employees understand that personal email is not safe in a work context. You may need to ban or block external mail platforms.


Customer Service Channels

One of the biggest trends in social engineering is hackers pretending to be customers in need. Every customer service employee is trained to maximally helpful to customers, which can lead to breaking security protocol when a customer insists their links must be clicked. Hackers have gotten through defenses by attacking through every possible form of customer service contract. Even showing up in person. The most common customer service hack avenues include:

Support Emails

If you have a service or support email, don’t be surprisded if hackers use it to get in touch with employees. Be wary of any customer who insists that a link or attachment must be clicked, opened, or followed. Most real customers will be fine working through a document management service or sending a text-only copy-paste of their documents. Hacker-customers will insist.

Phone Calls – Vishing

Believe it or not, hackers have called their victims on the phone in order to personally bully them into opening business network security. This happened most notably in the hotel industry where front desk clerks were frequenly ‘vished’ by hackers hoping to get them to click on a link in a ‘customer-sent’ email about theoretical booking plans.

Be aware that if you have a customer support phone line, hackers may use it to back up their digital phishing attempts through social engineering and plain old bullying tactics.

Live Chat

Modern hackers also know how to use live chat to catch chat associates in the social trap of either doing what they ask or providing ‘bad service’. Hackers are actually more likely to threaten negative service reviews and/or get belligerent and insulting in order to force live chat associates into clicking their infected links. Most live chat platforms have features for links and attachments and even those that don’t can still have links sent in text form through them.

Train your live chat support teams to know phishing methods when they see them and how to stay safe.


Social Media

If your business uses social media as an official marketing and customer relations channel, then hackers won’t hesitate to use it as a route to reach and trick employees. They may post as online community members, employees of the company, or even admins of the account in order to trick someone inside the busines snetwork into clicking a malevolent link. They may also try to catch customers and real online community members by sharing infected posts that are linked to your social media feeds.


Product Reviews

Hackers have even been known to use social engineering through product reviews. They might, for instance, leave a searing review on Amazon and then insist that links be followed if any staff jumps in to provide support or solutions. Hackers will stop at nothing to socially manipulate employees and staff members into infecting the company network and doing the hard part of hacking for them.


Vendor / Industry Marketplace Chat

Finally, watch out for hackers that understand your industry and are going to build a scam from that. Some of the most legendary phishing stories include hackers posing as vendors, suppliers, and business partners in order to get information, get funds transferred, or induce a hapless contact-point employee into clicking their malicious links.

Can hackers use social engineering on your company’s team members? With so many different channels of approach, there’s a good chance that not all you bases are covered yet. Examine every path through which external messages come in and train your team to ensure that not a single scrap of external malware ever gets onto your network. For more network security tips and insights, contact us today!