Home Risk Managements How attackers use social engineering to increase scamming success

How attackers use social engineering to increase scamming success

How attackers use social engineering to increase scamming success

Phishing attacks emerged as a significant threat last year, constituting 25% of all successful attack notifications, according to data from the Microsoft Digital Defense Report 2023. Social engineering plays a crucial role in the success of phishing attacks, with 90% of such attacks employing these tactics to manipulate victims into divulging sensitive information or engaging with malicious content. Attackers often leverage human behavior triggers such as urgency, emotions, and habits to influence their targets and achieve their desired outcomes.

Social engineering is a sophisticated process that involves meticulous planning and research to establish trust with victims. Attacker’s first collect information about their targets, identify vulnerabilities, and then craft a narrative that hooks the target and steers the interaction in their favor. By impersonating legitimate entities or leveraging personal information, attackers can deceive individuals into falling for their schemes. These tactics were exemplified in the actions of threat group Octo Tempest, who utilized social engineering techniques to execute various campaigns targeting organizations across different sectors.

The gradual accumulation of information over time is a common tactic used by social engineers to glean more confidential data from their targets. By gaining the trust of individuals and subtly extracting insights over extended periods, attackers can exploit this information to access even more sensitive data. Once their objectives are met, social engineers smoothly exit the interaction without raising suspicion, leaving their victims unaware of the deception.

In response to the rising threat of social engineering fraud, organizations must implement robust security measures to protect against such attacks. Business email compromise (BEC) remains a prevalent avenue for social engineering attacks, with significant financial consequences reported by the FBI. To mitigate the risks associated with BEC and other forms of social engineering, companies should educate employees on best practices, enforce multi-factor authentication, and encourage vigilance when interacting with emails from unknown sources.

Maintaining a strict separation between personal and work-related accounts, implementing multi-factor authentication, and training employees to recognize suspicious emails are crucial steps in fortifying defenses against social engineering tactics. Furthermore, endorsing cautious online behavior, securing company devices with advanced security software, and staying informed about evolving threat intelligence are essential strategies for safeguarding sensitive information.

As threat actors continue to evolve their methods, businesses must remain vigilant and proactive in defending against social engineering attacks. By staying informed about emerging threats and adopting comprehensive security measures, organizations can enhance their resilience against social engineering fraud and safeguard their valuable data. To delve deeper into social engineering tactics and other threat intelligence insights, companies can explore the resources available on Microsoft Security Insider.

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