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Cybersecurity Tip #2: Get Up to Speed on Social Engineering

By SolarWinds Passportal

#CyberSecurityTip: Learn to spot social engineering attacks to better protect your managed services provider (MSP) business as well as your customers. Social engineering is the act of psychologically manipulating people to get them to divulge confidential information or perform certain actions. Rather than looking for a software vulnerability, social engineers take advantage of people’s emotional reactions and natural tendencies in order to attack a system.

What is a phishing attack and how does it work?

There are several types of social engineering attacks, all of which depend on tricking a person into giving the hacker access to their devices or accounts. One of the most well-known and most successful social engineering attacks is phishing. A phishing attack involves the perpetrator sending a message via email, text, or even social media to a target in order to obtain sensitive information to help them with a larger crime.

Phishing messages are designed to appear like they come from legitimate, often trusted sources. They aim to capture the recipient’s attention and to drive them to immediate action without pausing to consider the legitimacy of the content. The messages often create a sense of both curiosity and urgency that drive the target to either provide the requested sensitive information or to click on an embedded link, which will redirect them to a malicious domain. Given that MSPs have access to so much of their customers’ data, it is critical they protect themselves from phishing attacks.

What are the primary countermeasures to social engineering attacks?

The best way to protect yourself from social engineering attacks is to stay alert and suspicious. Social engineers rely on their targets acting quickly without pausing to consider whether the message or request they’ve received is suspicious. Always consider the source of a message and whether its contents make sense. If a message seems fishy, don’t open any links or attachments from it.

To be safe, it is always better to type a link into a search bar than to click on it, given that fraudsters often use shortened URLs or embedded links that obscure the fact that the actual link does not match with what is represented in the message. It’s also good to employ multi-factor authentication, which can help protect your account, even if the system is compromised. While remaining vigilant is the most important countermeasure you can take, installing antivirus and security software and making sure the software on your devices is up-to-date can also help protect you from security threats.

Social engineering presents a serious threat to your cybersecurity. The best way for MSPs to protect themselves is through security awareness training, which can be aided by a social engineering toolkit. This way you can teach your employees and customers to better identify and prevent social engineering attacks.

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