Beware & avoid Social Engineering scams in 2015

There has been a tremendous increase in cyber attacks including social engineering scams over the past 10 years. While this nefarious activity and awareness of it are on the rise, many people continue to fall victim to it. Protecting yourself and your personal information is critical but it requires an understanding of the tactics scammers are using to acquire their targets.

Watch Your Comfort Zone

The comfort level many professionals and young people display when sharing information on social media sites compounds the problem. This frequently includes vacation schedules, home address, and phone numbers. We've seen people share detailed family plans involving a move to a new town, and the need for a bridge loan, etc.

So, who is your new "best friend" on Facebook? Think twice about the charming individual who has expressed so much interest in who you are, where you work/live, if you're involved in a relationship, etc.

Targeting on Social Media

The sharing of detailed business information, company projects, new product releases, etc. on social networks is also adding to the increase in incidents. Social engineering does not require a great deal of skill.

For various reasons, the number of fake Facebook accounts continues to skyrocket [1]. These accounts include social media agencies with employees who create numerous fake accounts to help manipulate Likes and increase engagement on client sites. Research professionals, fake consultants and hackers are also part of this group.

Looking for love online has also become an invasion of privacy issue with cybersecurity leaks involving millions of unencrypted passwords. Cupid Media is a prime example of serious network security problems and poor company management [2].

Be careful about what types of meta-information is available in your photos and eliminate all personal contact/address information. It's happening far too often. Individuals even tried to take advantage of the death of comedian Robin Williams by perpetuating a scam around his last “known” images. Keep your family, home and data safe be learning to recognize suspicious cues.

Drawing Conclusions

As you can see from the details in this post, there are many ways scammers can get information from you or your accounts. It does not matter who you are, we are all constantly at risk and must take precautions when using modern communications services or making transactions across the Internet.

Of course, there are ways to defend ourselves against privacy invasion. One trend amongst Chief Information Security Officers (CISO) and other information security professionals is to mask either their identity/name or their role within a company on social networks. This is to protect the IT environments of their organizations in general but also specifically if the CISO is away on business or holiday.

Social engineers are highly skilled con artists who study people, body language, behavior, and communication along with the latest in data security and hacking techniques. They are also very adept when it comes to using psychology [3].

It is critical to note that social engineering scams are not confined to any one location. Though they may look or sound different in the digital information age, threats can occur just as easily at your work desk as they once did via home phone lines. We must all learn to improve the methods we use to protect ourselves and our belongings in the digital age.

References:

[1] http://www.iacpsocialmedia.org/SiteSearchResults.aspx?cx=010726981603076...

[2] http://www.computerworld.com/article/2475534/cybercrime-hacking/42-milli...

[3] https://www.giac.org/paper/gsec/3547/psychological-based-social-engineering/105780

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Jacqueline von Ogden
Post by Jacqueline von Ogden
January 7, 2015
Since 1999, Jacqueline has written for corporate communications, MarCom agencies, higher education, and worked within the pharmacy, steel and retail industries. Since joining the tech industry, she has found her "home".