Email Hack Methods – Social Engineering

By on Jan 17, 2017

Category: Email, Security

 Chain breaking

You’ve probably heard that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.  Unfortunately, when it comes to protecting our email accounts, we, the users of email, are usually the weakest link.  We often fall prey to something called “Social Engineering.”  This is where our passwords (or other information) aren’t hacked via a keylogger or by brute force but, rather, by us giving up the information.  Kevin Mitnick, the most famous (or infamous, depending on your point of view) hacker of the 1980s and 90s, used social engineering in many of his adventures into company computer systems.  He often used phone calls or one-on-one conversations to charm information out of unsuspecting people.

In today’s world, social engineering most often comes in the way of phishing emails and websites.  You might receive an email which appears to come from a financial site, PayPal as an example.  The email informs you that you need to verify your information and you are directed to click a link to do so.  Sometimes these emails are “friendly” in nature asking for your help (playing on our desire to help others) while other times, the email warns you that you will lose information or be locked out if you don’t verify or update your information (playing on fears). When you click on the link you are taken to a phishing website which, again, may look like a legitimate site but it isn’t.  When you fill out the information, which usually includes things like your password or your debt card pin # or your social security number, that information is transmitted to the hacker.  If you do this, you have fallen victim to social engineering.

The recent release of emails from John Podesta, the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, all came about because of a phishing email sent to Mr. Podesta’s account.  (Read more HERE.)

You should protect your passwords – email and otherwise – and never give them to anyone – either verbally or in written form – unless you absolutely know and trust them and are sure it’s really them.


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