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The Sophisticated Tactics of Cybercriminals in Social Engineering

30 January, 2019

In the realm of cybersecurity, cybercriminals have evolved from mere amateurs to highly educated professionals with advanced degrees in IT, psychology, and human behavior. Leveraging this knowledge, they craft intricate social engineering campaigns designed to deceive individuals and extract sensitive information. Here, we shed light on some of the methods they employ to achieve their malicious ends.

Email Scams

Despite the presence of SPAM filters and anti-SPAM solutions, cybercriminals still find ways to infiltrate email inboxes with deceptive messages. Their mastery of social engineering allows them to create emails that appear legitimate, often surpassing the real ones in garnering attention. While the infamous “Nigerian prince” scam is well-known, newer tactics involve impersonating familiar entities like Netflix, banks, or Amazon. Apart from soliciting money or information, these emails may contain malicious links that deploy malware to compromise files, access sensitive data, or hold files hostage for ransom. Raising awareness about such scams can prevent individuals from falling victim to them.

Impersonation of Trusted Individuals

Another common tactic involves impersonating someone known to the target. Cybercriminals create copycat profiles on social media, particularly on platforms like Facebook, using a few photos from the original person’s profile to give an air of authenticity. By adding mutual friends, these profiles appear more credible. These imposters may solicit money, distribute malware-laden links, or exploit personal information. Similarly, within an organization, cybercriminals may pose as someone from the company’s leadership, sending deceptive emails with slightly altered addresses to trick employees into clicking on malicious links. Such scams are especially effective when targeting multiple employees simultaneously.

Ransomware via Advertisements

The proliferation of online advertisements has made it easy for cybercriminals to deploy ransomware ads that can be challenging to spot among the myriad of ads users encounter daily. These ads, often promoting anti-virus software or claiming to clean viruses, infect a user’s computer with malware or ransomware upon clicking. Such tactics capitalize on the pervasive nature of online ads, making them an attractive vector for social engineering attacks.

To defend against these sophisticated techniques, individuals and organizations must prioritize cybersecurity awareness and education. Recognizing common social engineering red flags, scrutinizing email sources, and verifying suspicious requests can bolster defenses against cyber threats. Robust anti-malware measures, diligent monitoring, and secure backup systems are also essential to thwarting cyberattacks. By staying informed and proactive, individuals can mitigate the risks posed by cybercriminals and safeguard their digital assets and sensitive information.

30 January, 2019