Social engineering is a little-known form of hacking which basically preys on human nature in order to get important passwords and user information. The social engineer hacker will often pose as an employee for a computer repair store, a software company employee, or even a credit card company rep. They work by getting you to trust them, learning the information they want straight from your mouth, and then using that information to victimize you. If you want to protect yourself from this form of hacking, it’s best to look out for the warning signs. Here’s what to look for when discerning whether or not a social engineer is trying to hit you.
- You get a call from a company that you don’t do business with, claiming that your account has been victimized. This should obviously raise alarm bells.
- You get a call from a “company rep” that uses a Google Voice number or a number that seems suspicious. Let’s be real here: no real Microsoft employee will call you from a Google Voice number. If the phone number has more than 10 digits, it’s a spoofed number. If the number that they are calling is made up of all zeros, then it’s a spoofed number. What we’re saying here is that you should check the company’s phone number before you give information.
- You get a call from your computer’s OS manufacturer or hardware manufacturer (Windows, Dell, Google, and ASUS, for example) telling you that your computer has an error and that they need to get your information in order to remotely access it. This is a classic example of what social engineering is supposed to be. In reality, no major computer manufacturer is going to call you up to fix your viruses for you. People who aren’t very technologically astute wouldn’t know that, though.
- The person on the other end of the phone is very unprofessional. Do you really think a Google rep would use swearwords?
- There are repairmen at your workplace, but you didn’t call them. If no one called them, why are they insisting on fixing your router? Hmmmm…
- Something about the call just doesn’t make sense or doesn’t sit well. If you feel like something is wrong with the call, chances are that it isn’t all good. A normal credit card company, for example, won’t call you at 2 AM, since it will go against laws protecting people from harassing or nuisance phone calls. So, if you do get a call from Discover or Capital One at that time, it wouldn’t make sense. When in doubt, go with your gut.
The good news about social engineers is that you can prevent any damage they do by simply not cooperating with them. They generally don’t have the tech skills needed to get the information otherwise, which is why they often choose this method to hack people. So, keep an eye out, double check these steps before proceeding, and instruct your employees to do the same.