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Social Engineering: One of the Latest Online Security Threats

If you know anything about IT security, you will understand that hacking requires a lot of effort on the part of the hacker. You will have to identify the node/nodes you are going to hack, try to beak down or get around its security measures and then access the data. This can take up a lot time and at the end of it, you might not succeed as you expected. To counter this unknown, hackers became more innovative and came up with a method where the people provide access to their computers on their own. This method of gaining access to a personal data  is called as social engineering.

What Exactly is Social Engineering?

To explain social engineering, let us take the example of a hunt taking place in the wild. To lure the prey, hunters use bait. It is not that every animal is attracted by the bait. But the ones which take it are not spared. This is exactly the same principle used in Social Engineering also.

Hackers disguise themselves as some legitimate people offering their services to unexpected web users. They approach the victims via emails, messages on social networking sites through anonymous social media accounts, and even through text messages. The approach is designed in such a manner that the victim does not doubt the authenticity of the hacker.

Once they establish a level of trust and their fake identity, the hackers will send one or a couple of links to the victims, telling them to visit the link to complete whatever fake process they had initiated. Once the unsuspecting victim clicks on the link, they provide the hackers with access to their computer. What follows is well known to everyone. Stealing sensitive information, personal information, authentication codes, bank fraud; the possibilities are endless.

Preying On the Weaknesses of Human Nature

To be adept at social engineering, hackers should have a basic understanding of human psychology. Curiosity is one of the main traits of human nature and sometimes, people act against their better judgment for the sake of satiating it. The level of curiosity is not the same in everyone. Some will be more curious than the others.

In a way, social engineering is an art. It depends on how well the hacker can lure people to click on the links which they send. At this point of time, you might feel  that all you need to do is stay away from links forwarded by anonymous people, but it is not as simple as you think. Mind is a fickle friend and you never know what you will feel in the next moment. There have been cases where people have been convinced to such an extent that they disabled their security features to access potentially dangerous link. Such is the level of attraction these hackers create toward their link.

How Can You Avoid Social Engineering Tactics?

Caution is the best tool against social engineering tactics. Don’t bother even if you go to the extent of being paranoid about unknown links you receive. The internet is a potential minefield and you never know the next mine you might click on. Always stick to the reputed and trusted sites. If your anti-virus or internet security warns you that a particular link should not be visited, don’t click on it.

Never get enticed by anonymous online offers, however lucrative it might seem on the outset. Also, avoid any requests for your personal information like your name, address, bank account number etc. Those are attempts to get information willingly out of you.

Also, ensure that you keep track of all your online accounts such as social media, banking accounts, professional networks and any other online accounts you might have. Do not hesitate to shut down the account if you notice any abnormal behavior.

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