The Best Types of Social Engineering Attacks That You Must Probably Know !
In the previous article we learned what social engineering is and the process used by a social engineer to perform a social engineering attack.
In this article we will discuss the ways in which we can perform a social engineering attack. Basically, social engineering is broken down into two types: human based and computer based.
Human-based social engineering :
In human-based social engineering attacks, the social engineer interacts directly with the target to get information.
An example of this type of attack would be where the attacker calls the database administrator asking to reset the password for the targets account from a remote location by gathering the user information from any remote social networking site of the XYZ company.
Human-based social engineering can be categorized as follows:
• Piggybacking: In this type of attack the attacker takes advantage by tricking authorized personnel to get inside a restricted area of the targeted company, such as the server room. For example, attacker X enters the ABC company as a candidate for an interview but later enters a restricted area by tricking an authorized person, claiming that he is a new employee of the company and so doesn’t have an employee ID, and using the targets ID card.
• Impersonating: In this type of attack, a social engineer pretends to be a valid employee of the organization and gains physical access. This can be perfectly carried out in the real world by wearing a suit or duplicate ID for the company. Once inside the premises, the social engineer can gain valuable information from a desktop computer.
• Eavesdropping: This is the unauthorized listening to of communication between two people or the reading of private messages. It can be performed using communication channels such as telephone lines and e-mails.
• Reverse social engineering: This is when the attacker creates a persona that appears to be in a position of authority. In such a situation, the target will ask for the information that they want. Reverse engineering attacks usually occur in areas of marketing and technical support.
• Dumpster diving: Dumpster diving involves looking in the trash can for information written on pieces of paper or computer printouts. The hacker can often find passwords, filenames, or other pieces of confidential information in trash cans.
• Posing as a legitimate end user: In this type of attack, the social engineer assumes the identity of a legitimate user and tries to get the information, for example, calling the helpdesk and saying, “Hi, I am Mary from the X department. I do not remember my account password; can you help me out?”
Computer-based social engineering :
Computer-based social engineering refers to attacks carried out with the help of computer software to get the desired information. Some of these attack types are listed as follows:
• Pop-up windows: Pop ups trick users into clicking on a hyperlink that redirects them to visit an attacker’s web page, asking them to give away their personal information or asking them to download software that could have attached viruses in the back-end.
• Insider attack: This type of attack is performed from inside the target network. Most insider attacks are orchestrated by disgruntled employees who are not happy with their position in the organization or because they have personal grudges against another employee or the management.
• Phishing: Spammers often send e-mails in bulk to e-mail accounts, for example, those claiming to be from the UK lottery department and informing you that you have won a million pounds. They request you to click on a link in the e-mail to provide your credit card details or enter information such as your first name, address, age, and city. Using this method the social engineer can gather social security numbers and network information.
• The “Nigerian 419” scam: In the Nigerian scam, the attacker asks the target to make upfront payments or make money transfers. It is called 419 because “4-1-9” is a section of the Nigerian Criminal Code that outlaws this practice.
The attacker or scammers usually send the target e-mails or letters with some lucrative offers stating that their money has been trapped in some country that is currently at war, so they need help in taking out the money and that they will give the target a share, which never really comes. These scammers ask you to pay money or give them your bank account details to help them transfer the money. You are then asked to pay fees, charges, or taxes to helprelease or transfer the money out of the country through your bank. These “fees” may start out as small amounts. If paid, the scammer comes up with new fees that require payment before you can receive your “reward”.
They will keep making up these excuses until they think they have got all the money they can out of you. You will never be sent the money that was promised.
• Social engineering attack through a fake SMS: In this type of attack, the social engineer will send an SMS to the target claiming to be from the security department of their bank and also claiming that it is urgent that the target call the specified number. If the target is not too technically sound, they will call the specified number and the attacker can get the desired information.