In 2014, the employees of a large company were shocked to see a skull appear on the screen of their monitors. On that day, the company completely lost control of its devices, its networks and worst of all its data.
The security professionals were bewildered, the organization had invested vast amounts of resources in cutting-edge technology to protect the systems. What had gone wrong? How, despite all the precautions taken, could they be so vulnerable?
We all know the answer now: A Social Engineering attack. The attackers found a way to make the company’s own employees unwittingly introduce the malicious code that later allowed hackers to take control of the company’s systems.
A few fraudulent emails, misinformed employees and a couple of clicks to links to the malware; that was all it took to launch one of the worst social engineering attacks in history.
If you’re always on the lookout for cybersecurity news, you’ve probably figured out that we’re talking about the attack on Sony Pictures in 2014. Today Sony is still a successful company but how much do you think it took them to recover from that attack?
Social engineering is a threat that can cost a lot more than we think; and although today’s story talks about a big company, the reality is that any business, regardless of its size could be a victim at any time.
Do you want to know more about this type of attack and the best way to protect yourself? Read on and find out more.
What exactly is Social Engineering?
Software solutions specialized in digital security have evolved into powerful tools for system protection. As a result, it has become much more complicated for criminals to directly penetrate the security barriers of a corporate network.
As a result, hackers decided to focus on another objective to achieve greater effectiveness in their attacks: the human factor. That’s how social engineering attacks began to multiply.
Social Engineering is the term used to describe a set of practices that seek to exploit the ingenuity of an individual. In the case of companies, its purpose is to deceive the employee; pretending to be a service provider or an internal person of the organization, in order to gain access to confidential data or take over the company’s network.
A social engineering attack can be launched by phone, email, social networks; but also in the physical presence of the attacker. The cybercriminal chooses the technique according to its objective; the context of the attack and the possibilities available to him.
Social engineering is so effective and dangerous that last year it was the most used technique in the world of hacking.
Among the most important consequences that a social engineering attack can bring, we have:
- Theft of sensitive data.
- Large financial losses
- Deterioration of the company’s reputation and the level of customer trust.
How do hackers carry out an attack?
One of the factors that make social engineering attacks more dangerous is that there is no single way to carry them out. However, from the following example, we can get an idea of what stages this threat goes through.
Data collection: In this phase, the attacker identifies his victim and then proceeds to collect as much data as possible. This data includes personal data, habits, function within the company, presence in social networks; and any other information, in order to build a profile that facilitates the manipulation of the target user.
System Intrusion: This is where the hacker launches his attack. In the example we gave about Sony Pictures; the attackers sent emails with malicious links. So, through the employees, they were able to enter the system.
Backdoor configuration: In this phase, the attacker uses malware to configure Backdoor on the infected device. This backdoor allows partial or total control of the system.
Rootkit Installation: Once the hacker infects the device, he can install a Rootkit; which includes a set of malicious tools such as a password capture program, a key logger or functions that can disable the security software.
After the intrusion is successful, he steals as much data as possible to sell them or blackmail the company.
How can I prevent a social engineering attack on my company?
#1 Raise user awareness
As you may have already noticed, it is not enough that you invest in the best security tools if you do not succeed in making the members of the company solid pillars for the protection of your systems.
To achieve this it is necessary that you educate and raise awareness about the dangers of the digital world. In this way, you will be able to turn them into allies in favor of cybersecurity.
We have dedicated a full article to the topic of user awareness, have a look at it and start taking the first steps.
# 2 Integrate the right technology into your systems
Establish protection systems and procedures by installing software that blocks phishing emails, artificial intelligence systems that detect unusual actions, strong authentication systems, etc.
#3 Apply a data governance strategy
This type of strategy consists of clearly defining the limits of each employee; in order to know what data they will or will not have access to. In this case, different you can establish different levels, for example; access to strategic and confidential data of the company is only allowed to users who are higher in the hierarchical scale.
Remember, if you want better results, you should ideally have professional support. Luckily, to get it you don’t have to look very hard. At GB Advisors we offer you the best security solutions; and we put at your disposal a team of expert advisors who will help you protect your system from end to end.
Contact us and get the satisfaction of finding in one place; everything you need to optimize the performance of your IT environment.