Recognising Social Engineering: A Critical Skill for Cyber Security Awareness

Recognising social engineering as part of your security awareness training is an important piece of the puzzle for every organisation. Arm yourself with the knowledge and skills to identify and defend against various forms of cyber threats, particularly those that start with social engineering.

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The Prevalence of Social Engineering

Social engineering has always been a preferred first tactic for cyber criminals. It is a non-technical strategy used to manipulate individuals into divulging confidential or personal information that can be used for fraudulent activities, it is easier and less obvious than ‘hacking’ into a system. It has been reported that in most data breaches, an estimated 95%, result from social engineering tactics, according to IBM’s 2022 report.

The Human Firewall

Humans are often said to bethe weakest link in the cyber security chain, which is are the primary target for these attacks. While this sounds unfair, remember it just takes one person to respond to one phishing attempt to put your organisation at risk. Techniques such as phishing, baiting, pretexting, and tailgating exploit human emotions such as fear, curiosity, or the desire to help others. Even the most advanced technological security measures can be circumvented if an individual within an organisation is manipulated into providing access to sensitive information. As humans, online danger doesn’t trigger a fight or flight response and thus we are apt to be emotionally or carelessly reactive to social engineering.

The Importance of Recognition

Recognising social engineering attempts is the first and most crucial step in combating this threat. This recognition is not just about understanding what social engineering is, but also about being able to identify its various forms and the psychological tricks used by cyber criminals. Training to identify these tactics and the nuances of these deceptive strategies can greatly reduce the risk of falling victim to a cyber attack.

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Impact on Business

The financial consequences of social engineering can be devastating for organisations, potentially leading to the loss of critical data, financial assets, and irreparable damage to the organisation's reputation. Data breaches can also result in regulatory fines and legal consequences depending on your industry and location. Training in recognising social engineering can add a layer of safety against such fallout, protecting both the financial and reputational integrity of an organisation.

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Proactive Defence

Training in social engineering recognition promotes a proactive approach to cyber security. Instead of only relying on reactive or technical measures, like dealing with the aftermath of a breach, awareness and training equip individuals with the knowledge to prevent breaches from happening in the first place.

Continuous Learning

Given the personal nature of social engineering tactics, regular and ongoing training is vital. Cyber criminals continuously refine their strategies and devise new schemes to trick unsuspecting individuals. As such, cyber security awareness training should be an integral, recurrent part of professional development within all organisations. This human-centric approach to cyber security reinforces that the best defence against social engineering is a well-trained mind.

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