Social Engineering

A word cloud of social engineering-related items.

Social Engineering is the number one way hackers break into computer systems and networks. As I explain in my blog post, Social Engineering: The Weakest Link In The Chain, the person operating a computing device is the weakest link in the security chain. Someone will click on a phishing email or be tricked into allowing someone onto his or her computer and the deed is done. Let’s first define Social Engineering and then look at some of the Social Engineering tricks and how to avoid them.

Definition

When it relates to the computing world, Social Engineering involves manipulating individuals by exploiting human weaknesses. You can find a complete meaning HERE.

The Three Social Engineering Methods

In my experience, I’ve found that there are three methods hackers and scammers use when it comes to Social Engineering. I mention these in the same Weakest Link post.

  1. You receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from Microsoft or Windows or Apple. They tell you that your computer has issues and you need to let them onto your computer to fix the issue. This is an attempt to use fear as a motivator.
  2. An email comes to you stating that a friend is in trouble, lost their wallet, has no money, and can’t get home. This is an attempt to appeal to your willingness to help others.
  3. Congratulations! Someone emails you because you’ve been recommended to help them move some money from their country to the US. And, if you’re willing to help, they will give you a percentage of the money. This is an attempt to tap into your dreams. Who wouldn’t like some easy money?

Those are the three methods I see being used: using fear as a motivator; appealing to your willingness to help others; and, attempting to tap into your dreams.

Fear Example

My very first YouTube video addressed an example of how scammers will use fear to trick you into doing something you shouldn’t do. If you haven’t watched this before, now would be a good time.


Willingness To Help Others Example

In my post, Bahamian Alert, I give a perfect example of this type of scamming. When Hurricane Dorian hit the Bahamas in 2019, email Inboxes were inundated with fake emails asking people to donate to help. These weren’t from legitimate charities but, rather from crooks. The scammers tried to make a profit from people’s willingness to help others.

Example of Attempting To Tap Into Your Dreams

In my post, Don’t Be A Mule!, I talk about various “dream” scams. Some include emails promising big money coming your way; some are Social Media posts promising easy money; and some are Direct Messages saying you’ve won a trip or an RV or…you get the picture, I’m sure.

Let’s Stay Safe From Social Engineering!

There are ways you can stay safe and not allow yourself to be a victim of Social Engineering. Here are some of the ways:

  • Learn to be a detective when it comes to emails. (Watch my video, How To Tell If An Email Is Fake or read my post, Scam Email Examples.)
  • Refrain from clicking text messages with links unless you are 100% sure they are legitimate. (See How To Avoid Smishing Scams.)
  • Remember the old adage – “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
  • Don’t unsubscribe from email lists to which you didn’t actually subscribe.
  • Don’t click on links or call phone numbers that appear in pop-ups telling you your computing device is infected.
  • Refrain from sharing personal information with strangers online.
  • Take a breath! Read, stop and think before you do anything.
  • Don’t panic.

Conclusion

Scammers and hackers will stop doing what they are doing once everyone stops falling for their tricks! Stay alert, keep reading my posts and visit my YouTube Channel. If you want to read all of my posts on Social Engineering, just click HERE.